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Publication numberUS5718210 A
Publication typeGrant
Application numberUS 08/688,447
Publication dateFeb 17, 1998
Filing dateJul 30, 1996
Priority dateJul 31, 1995
Fee statusPaid
Publication number08688447, 688447, US 5718210 A, US 5718210A, US-A-5718210, US5718210 A, US5718210A
InventorsTokiji Ito, Susumu Shinohara
Original AssigneeToyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Testing apparatus for fuel vapor treating device
US 5718210 A
Abstract
A fuel vapor treating device that collects fuel vapor produced in a fuel tank and treats the vapor without releasing it into the atmosphere. The treating device is provided with a canister that collects the fuel vapor through a vapor line. A vapor control valve provided in the canister adjusts the flow of fuel vapor directed toward the canister from the tank. A purge line connects the canister to an air intake passage of an engine. The fuel collected in the canister is purged into the air intake passage through the purge line. A purge control valve provided in the purge line adjusts the flow rate of the fuel flowing through the purge line. A three-way valve selectively switches the section which the pressure sensor is connected to between the tank side and the canister side. An electronic control unit (ECU) controls the purge control valve and the three-way valve. The ECU performs testing of the sealing of the tank side and the canister side based on the tank pressure and the canister pressure which are detected by the pressure sensor. The ECU controls the three-way valve to selectively detect the pressure in the canister side before the engine is started and selectively detect the pressure in the tank side immediately after the engine is started. The ECU determines that the three-way valve is functioning normally when the difference between the detected pressures is equal to or greater than a predetermined value.
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Claims(39)
What is claimed is:
1. A testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, the treating device including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister, the apparatus comprising:
pressure detecting means for detecting the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of said vapor control valve;
switching means for switching a connection of said pressure detecting means between the tank side and the canister side to detect the pressure of the tank side and the canister side selectively;
first testing means for testing individually for a malfunction related to a sealing of the tank side and a malfunction related to a sealing of the canister side based on the detected pressures of the tank side and the canister side;
control means for controlling said switching means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means, wherein the connection is switched selectively to the canister side before a engine starting so as to detect a pressure of the canister side as a first pressure and to the tank side immediately after the engine starting so as to detect a pressure of the tank side as a second pressure;
second testing means for determining that the switching means is functioning normally when a difference value between said first pressure and said second pressure is equal to or larger than a predetermined value.
2. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1, wherein said pressure detecting means includes a pressure sensor for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side and at the tank side, and wherein said switching means includes a three-way valve having a first port, a second port and a third port, said first port being connected to the pressure sensor, said second port being connected to the canister at the side of the vapor control valve, and said third port being connected to the vapor line at the side of the vapor control valve, wherein said first and second ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side, and wherein said first and third ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the tank side.
3. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1 further comprising allowing means for allowing the first testing means to test when the switching means is found to be functioning normally by the second testing means.
4. The apparatus as set forth in claim 1 further comprising indicating means for indicating normal functioning of the switching means when normal functioning is found by the second testing means.
5. The apparatus as set forth in claim 2, wherein said control means, said first testing means and said second testing means are incorporated in an electronic control unit having an input signal processor, a memory, an operation circuit and an output signal processor.
6. A testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, the treating device including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the
pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister, the apparatus comprising:
pressure detecting means for detecting the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of said vapor control valve;
switching means for switching a connection of said pressure detecting means between the tank side and the canister side to detect the pressure of the tank side and the canister side selectively;
first testing means for testing individually for a malfunction related to a sealing of the tank side and a malfunction related to a sealing of the canister side based on the detected pressures of the tank side and the canister side;
control means for controlling said switching means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means;
second testing means for determining that the switching means is functioning normally when a difference value between said detected pressure of the canister side and said detected pressure of the tank side is equal to or larger than a predetermined value;
assuming means for assuming that there is a sudden alteration according to the pressure of the canister side; and
discontinuing means for discontinuing a determination by the second testing means when the sudden alteration according to the pressure of the canister is assumed.
7. The apparatus as set forth in claim 6, wherein said pressure detecting means includes a pressure sensor for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side and at the tank side, and wherein said switching means includes a three-way valve having a first port, a second port and a third port, said first port being connected to the pressure sensor, said second port being connected to the canister at the side of the vapor control valve, and said third port being connected to the vapor line at the side of the vapor control valve, wherein said first and second ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side, and wherein said first and third ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the tank side.
8. The apparatus as set forth in claim 6 further comprising allowing means for allowing the first testing means to test when the switching means is found to be functioning normally by the second testing means.
9. The apparatus as set forth in claim 6 further comprising indicating means for indicating normal functioning of the switching means when normal functioning is found by the second testing means.
10. The apparatus as set forth in claim 7, wherein said control means, said first testing means, said second testing means, said assuming means and said discontinuing means are incorporated in an electronic control unit having an input signal processor, a memory, an operation circuit and an output signal processor.
11. A testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, the treating device including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister, a purge control valve for adjusting a flow rate of fuel vapor passing through the purge line, wherein the opening of the purge control valve is duty controlled in accordance with a duty signal, and a first control means for controlling said purge control valve during operation of the engine, wherein the first control means supplies the duty signal to the purge control valve, and wherein the duty control of the purge control valve causes pulsation of a negative intake pressure applied to the purge line from the air intake passage, the apparatus comprising:
pressure detecting means for detecting the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of said vapor control valve;
switching means for switching a connection of said pressure detecting means between the tank side and the canister side to detect the pressure of the tank side and the canister side selectively;
first testing means for testing individually for a malfunction related to a sealing of the tank side and a malfunction related to a sealing of the canister side based on the detected pressures of the tank side and the canister side;
second control means for controlling said switching means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means according to a supply of the duty signal to the purge control valve from the first control means;
first deciding means for deciding whether a difference value between said detected pressure of the canister side and said detected pressure of the tank side is smaller than a predetermined value;
second deciding means for deciding whether a pressure pulsation is absent in the detected pressure caused by the duty control of the purge control valve when said switching means is controlled by said second control means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means to the canister side; and
second testing means for determining that there is a malfunction of the switching means, hindering selective connecting the pressure detecting means to the canister side, when the first deciding means decides that there is a difference value between said detected pressure of the canister side and said detected pressure of the tank side is smaller than a predetermined value, and the second deciding means decides that said pressure pulsation in the detected pressure caused by the duty control of the purge control valve is absent.
12. The apparatus as set forth in claim 11, wherein said pressure detecting means includes a pressure sensor for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side and at the tank side, and wherein said switching means includes a three-way valve having a first port, a second port and a third port, said first port being connected to the pressure sensor, said second port being connected to the canister at the side of the vapor control valve, and said third port being connected to the vapor line at the side of the vapor control valve, wherein said first and second ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side, and wherein said first and third ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the tank side.
13. The apparatus as set forth in claim 11, wherein said second deciding means computes the pressure pulsation by adding incrementally, to a previously determined pulsation value, an absolute value of a difference between the detected pressure and an average of the detected pressure.
14. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, wherein said second deciding means sets the absolute value as zero when the absolute value is smaller than a predetermined value.
15. The apparatus as set forth in claim 11 further comprising prohibiting means for prohibiting the first testing means from testing when a malfunction of the switching means is found by the second testing means.
16. The apparatus as set forth in claim 11 further comprising warning means for warning of a malfunction of the switching means when a malfunction is found by the second testing means.
17. The apparatus as set forth in claim 13, wherein said first control means, said second control means, said first deciding means, said second deciding means, said first testing means and said second testing means are incorporated in an electronic control unit having an input signal processor, a memory, an operation circuit and an output signal processor.
18. A testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, the treating device including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister, a purge control valve for adjusting a flow rate of fuel vapor passing through the purge line, wherein the opening of the purge control valve is duty controlled in accordance with a duty signal, and a first control means for controlling said purge control valve during operation of the engine, wherein the first control means supplies the duty signal to the purge control valve, and wherein the duty control of the purge control valve causes pulsation of a negative intake pressure applied to the purge line from the air intake passage, the apparatus comprising:
pressure detecting means for detecting the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of said vapor control valve;
switching means for switching a connection of said pressure detecting means between the tank side and the canister side to detect the pressure of the tank side and the canister side selectively;
first testing means for testing individually for a malfunction related to a sealing of the tank side and a malfunction related to a sealing of the canister side based on the detected pressures of the tank side and the canister side;
second control means for controlling said switching means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means according to the duty signal to the purge control valve from the first control means;
first deciding means for deciding whether a difference between said detected pressure of the canister side and said detected pressure of the tank side is smaller than a predetermined value;
second deciding means for deciding whether there is a pressure pulsation in the detected pressure caused by the duty control of the purge control valve when said switching means is controlled by said second control means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means to the tank side; and
second testing means for determining that there is a malfunction of the switching means, hindering selective connecting the pressure detecting means to the tank side, when the first deciding means decides that a difference between said detected pressure of the canister side and said detected pressure of the tank side is smaller than a predetermined value and the second deciding means decides that there is a pressure pulsation in the detected pressure caused by the duty control of the purge control valve.
19. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18, wherein said pressure detecting means includes a pressure sensor for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side and at the tank side, and wherein said switching means includes a three-way valve having a first port, a second port and a third port, said first port being connected to the pressure sensor, said second port being connected to the canister at the side of the vapor control valve, and said third port being connected to the vapor line at the side of the vapor control valve, wherein said first and second ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side, and wherein said first and third ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the tank side.
20. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18, wherein said second deciding means computes the pressure pulsation by adding incrementally, to a previously determined pulsation value, an absolute value of a difference between the detected pressure and an average of the detected pressure.
21. The apparatus as set forth in claim 20, wherein said second deciding means sets the absolute value as zero when the absolute value is smaller than a predetermined value.
22. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18, wherein said second testing means performs testing when the engine is idling.
23. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18 further comprising prohibiting means for prohibiting the first testing means from testing when a malfunction of the switching means is found by the second testing means.
24. The apparatus as set forth in claim 18 further comprising warning means for warning of a malfunction of the switching means when a malfunction is found by the second testing means.
25. The apparatus as set forth in claim 20, wherein said first control means, said second control means, said first deciding means, said second deciding means, said first testing means and said second testing means are incorporated in an electronic control unit having an input signal processor, a memory, an operation circuit and an output signal processor.
26. A testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, the treating device including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister, a purge control valve for adjusting a flow rate of fuel vapor passing through the purge line, wherein the opening of the purge control valve is duty controlled in accordance with a duty signal, and a first control means for controlling said purge control valve during operation of the engine, wherein the first control means supplies the duty signal to the purge control valve, and wherein the duty control of the purge control valve causes pulsation of a negative intake pressure applied to the purge line from the air intake passage, the apparatus comprising:
pressure detecting means for detecting the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of said vapor control valve, wherein a value of a detected pressure includes a noise therein;
switching means for switching a connection of said pressure detecting means between the tank side and the canister side to detect the pressure of the tank side and the canister side selectively;
first testing means for testing individually for a malfunction related to a sealing of the tank side and a malfunction related to a sealing of the canister side based on the detected pressures of the tank side and the canister side;
second control means for controlling said switching means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means according to the duty signal to the purge control valve from the first control means;
assuming means for assuming that said treating device is in a relatively non-vibrating condition;
first eliminating means for eliminating a noise in a value of the detected pressure when said switching means is controlled by said second control means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means to the tank side;
first smoothening means for smoothening said noise eliminated pressure value by said first eliminating means;
first computing means for computing a difference between said noise eliminated pressure value by the first eliminating means and said smoothened pressure value by the first smoothening means when said assuming means assumes that the treating device is in a relatively non-vibrating condition;
first adding means for adding incrementally, to a previously added value, a value of a computed difference when said difference computed by the first computing means is equal or larger than a predetermined value;
second eliminating means for eliminating a noise in a value of the detected pressure when said switching means is controlled by said second control means to switch the connection of the pressure detecting means to the canister side;
second smoothening means for smoothening said noise eliminated pressure value by said first eliminating means;
second computing means for computing a difference between said noise eliminated pressure value by the second eliminating means and said smoothened pressure value by the second smoothening means
second adding means for adding incrementally, to a previously added value, a value of a computed difference when said difference computed by the second computing means is equal or larger than a predetermined value; and
second testing means for determining that the switching means is functioning normally, when a value added by the second adding means is equal or larger than a predetermined value and a value added by the first adding means is smaller than a predetermined value.
27. The apparatus as set forth in claim 26 further comprising prohibiting means for prohibiting the second computing means from computing when the duty signal supplied to the purge control valve from the first control means is a value that actuates the purge control valve to have an opening that is equal or larger than a predetermined value.
28. The apparatus as set forth in claim 27, wherein said pressure detecting means includes a pressure sensor for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side and at the tank side, and wherein said switching means includes a three-way valve having a first port, a second port and a third port, said first port being connected to the pressure sensor, said second port being connected to the canister at the side of the vapor control valve, and said third port being connected to the vapor line at the side of the vapor control valve, wherein said first and second ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side, and wherein said first and third ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the tank side.
29. The apparatus as set forth in claim 27 further comprising allowing means for allowing the first testing means to test when the switching means is found to be functioning normally by the second testing means.
30. The apparatus as set forth in claim 26 further comprising indicating means for indicating normal functioning of the switching means when normal functioning is found by the second testing means.
31. The apparatus as set forth in claim 27, wherein said first control means, said second control means, assuming means first eliminating means, second eliminating means, first smoothening means, second smoothening means, first computing means, second computing means, first adding means, second adding means, said first testing means, said second testing means and prohibiting means are incorporated in an electronic control unit having an input signal processor, a memory, an operation circuit and an output signal processor.
32. A testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, the treating device being mounted on a vehicle and being utilized for a vehicle engine and including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister, a purge control valve for adjusting a flow rate of fuel vapor passing through the purge line, wherein the opening of the purge control valve is duty controlled in accordance with a duty signal, and a first control means for controlling said purge control valve during operation of the engine, wherein the first control means supplies the duty signal to the purge control valve, wherein the duty signal has a duty ratio which value is relatively larger during vehicle moving than that of during vehicle stopping and wherein the duty control of the purge control valve causes pulsation of a negative intake pressure applied to the purge line from the air intake passage, the apparatus comprising:
pressure detecting means for detecting selectively the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of said vapor control valve;
state detecting means for detecting a state whether the vehicle is moving or stopped;
first testing means for testing for a malfunction related to the treating device to compare the detected pressure of the tank side or the detected pressure of the canister side with a first predetermined reference value when the purge control valve is duty controlled when a value of the duty ratio is equal or larger than a second predetermined reference value; and
first altering means for altering said second predetermined reference value utilized by the first testing means according to whether the vehicle is moving or stopped as detected by the state detecting means.
33. The apparatus as set forth in claim 32 further comprising a second altering means for altering said first predetermined reference value utilized by the first testing means according whether vehicle is moving or stopped as detected by the state detecting means.
34. The apparatus as set forth in claim 32 further comprising a final testing means for determining finally whether there is a malfunction related to the treating device based on the tested results both when the vehicle is moving and when the vehicle is stopped.
35. The apparatus as set forth in claim 33 further comprising a final testing means for determining finally whether there is a malfunction related to the treating device based on the tested results both when the vehicle is moving and when the vehicle is stopped.
36. The apparatus as set forth in claim 35, wherein said final testing means determines finally that there is a malfunction related to the treating device when a malfunction related to the treating device is found by the first testing means while the vehicle is moving; and a malfunction related to the treating device is found by the first testing means while the vehicle is stopped.
37. The apparatus as set forth in claim 36 further comprising warning means for warning of a malfunction of the treating device when a malfunction is found by the final testing means.
38. The apparatus as set forth in claim 36, wherein said pressure detecting means includes a pressure sensor for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side and at the tank side, and a three-way valve having a first port, a second port and a third port, said first port being connected to the pressure sensor, said second port being connected to the canister at the side of the vapor control valve, and said third port being connected to the vapor line at the side of the vapor control valve, wherein said first and second ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the canister side, and wherein said first and third ports are connected with each other by switching the three-way valve for detecting the interior pressure at the tank side.
39. The apparatus as set forth in claim 38, wherein said first control means, said first altering means, said second altering means, said first testing means and said final testing means are incorporated in an electronic control unit having an input signal processor, a memory, an operation circuit and an output signal processor.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to an device for collecting and treating vaporized fuel in a fuel tank without releasing the fuel vapor into the atmosphere. More particularly, the present invention pertains to a testing apparatus that includes a structure to test a fuel vapor treating device, which is provided with a canister for collection of fuel and a purging means for appropriate purging of the fuel into an intake passage of an engine.

2. Description of the Related Art

A fuel vapor treating device, typically mounted on a vehicle, collects and treats vaporized fuel in a fuel tank without releasing the fuel vapor into the atmosphere. As shown in FIG. 28, a typical device has a canister 73 that draws in and collects fuel vaporized in a fuel tank 71 through a vapor line 72. The canister 73 is filled with an adsorbent 74 comprised of activated carbon or the like. A purge line 75, extending from the canister 73, is connected to an intake passage 77 of an engine 76. The canister 73 first adsorbs the vaporized fuel drawn in through the vapor line 72. The canister 73 collects fuel and discharges only the residual gas, from which fuel components (particularly hydrocarbon, HC) have been extracted, into the atmosphere through a hole 78. The fuel collected in the canister 73 is purged into the intake passage 77 by way of the purge line 75 during operation of the engine 76. A purge control valve 79, provided in the purge line 75, adjusts the flow rate of the fuel conveyed through the purge line 75 in accordance with the requirements of the engine 76.

In this typical treating device, damage or disconnection of the vapor line 72 may lead to a degradation in the airtightness, or sealing, of the treating device. This may result in insufficient treatment of the vaporized fuel.

Japanese Unexamined Patent Publication 6-108930 describes an apparatus that tests for malfunctions such as those described above. As shown in FIG. 29, a testing apparatus used for fuel vapor treating devices includes a fuel tank 81, a canister 82, a vapor line 83, and a purge line 84. The purge line 84 connects the canister 82 to an intake passage 80. A purge vacuum switching valve (VSV), or purge control valve 85, is selectively opened by an electronic control unit (ECU) 86 when the engine is running. A vapor control valve 87, which is a check valve and is provided in the vapor line 83, controls the flow of vaporized fuel directed toward the canister 82 from the fuel tank 81. A difference in pressure between the fuel tank 81 side and the canister 82 side of the vapor control valve 87 opens the valve 87 and causes the vaporized fuel to flow therethrough. Opening of the valve 87 allows fuel vapor to flow into the canister 82 from the tank 81. Another control valve 90 is provided in a passageway that bypasses the vapor control valve 87 and is controlled by the ECU 86. When the control valve 90 is opened with the vapor control valve 87 in a closed state, the valve 90 allows fuel vapor to flow into the canister 82 from the tank 81. The testing apparatus includes a pressure sensor 88, which separately detects the interior pressure in the tank side of the vapor control valve 87 and the canister side of the vapor control valve 87. That is, a three-way valve 89, connected to the pressure sensor 88, includes a port connected to the vapor line 83 at the side of the tank 81 and another port connected to the vapor line 83 at the side of the canister 82. The pressure sensor 88 selectively detects the tank pressure and the canister pressure when the ECU 86 switches the side which the three-way valve 89 is connected to in accordance with its requirements. The ECU 86 separately tests the sealed state of the tank side and the sealed state of the canister side based on the detected value of the tank pressure and the canister pressure.

The principle for performing testing of the sealing in the tank side will now be described. When fuel vaporizes in the tank 81 with the control valve 90 in a closed state, the tank side pressure exceeds a predetermined reference value. Holes such as punctures in the vapor line 83 would inhibit the tank side pressure from exceeding the predetermined reference value. Therefore, it is possible to test the tank side sealing by having the ECU 86 judge whether the tank side pressure, detected by the pressure sensor 88, exceeds the reference value.

The principle for performing testing of the sealing in the canister side will now be described. When the purge control valve 85 opens during operation of the engine, the pressure in the canister 82 escapes through the purge line 84 and becomes negative due to the negative pressure produced in the intake passage 80. With the control valve 90 in a closed state, this causes the canister side pressure to become lower than a predetermined reference value. Holes such as punctures in the purge line 84 would obstruct the canister side pressure from exceeding the predetermined reference value. Therefore, it is possible to test the canister side sealing by having the ECU 86 judge whether the canister side pressure, detected by the pressure sensor 88, is lower than the reference value.

In the testing apparatus of the above publication, selective opening and closing of the purge control valve 85 enables both fuel vapor treatment and testing of the treating device to be executed. The opening of the purge control valve 85 may be duty controlled based on a predetermined duty ratio to perform fuel vapor treatment and testing of the treating device. Duty controlling of the opening of the purge control valve 85 enables appropriate adjustment of the flow rate of the fuel purged into the intake passage 80 from the canister 82. Thus, the flow rate of the fuel purged into the intake passage 80 may be adjusted in accordance with the requirement of the engine.

However, a malfunction in the three-way valve 89 interferes with the detection of the tank side pressure and the canister side pressure. Such malfunction may lead to inaccurate values detected from each side. For example, the ECU 86 would not be able to detect the canister side pressure with the pressure sensor 88 by controlling the three-way valve 89 if a malfunction disabled the switching of the three-way valve 89 with the pressure sensor 88 in a state detecting the tank side pressure. The ECU 86 would also not be able to detect the tank side pressure with the pressure sensor 88 by controlling the three-way valve 89 if a malfunction disabled the switching of the three-way valve 89 with the pressure sensor 88 in a state detecting the canister side pressure. Therefore, a malfunction of the three-way valve 89 would interfere with accurate detection of the tank side pressure and the canister side pressure. This obstructs with proper testing of the sealing in the tank side and the canister side. In other words, it is important that the reliability of the testing of the three-way valve 89 be high since it is a requirement that the valve 89 function normally to perform testing of the sealing in the tank side and the canister side.

Furthermore, vibrations caused by the movement of the vehicle may vibrate a check ball inside the vapor control valve 87 and result in undesirable opening of the valve 87. Such intermittent opening of the control valve 89 causes pulsation of the tank pressure. When the sealing in the canister side is tested, the duty control of the purge control valve 85 causes pulsation of the negative pressure in the canister 82. The vapor control valve 87 prevents the canister pressure pulsation from being transmitted to the tank side. Thus, the pressure in the tank side is not affected by the pulsation in the canister side unless there is a malfunction. However, when the sealing of the tank side is tested, pressure pulsation caused by undesirable opening of the vapor control valve 87 may result in an erroneous judgement indicating the presence of a malfunction.

In the above case, pressure pulsation resulting from the duty control by the purge control valve 85 may be detected while pulsation resulting from the undesirable opening of the control valve 87 is ignored. To distinguish the two types of pulsation, it is required that the ratio between the two, or the signal/noise ratio (S/N ratio), be increased. When the purge control valve 87 is controlled by a rather high duty ratio, the S/N ratio becomes relatively high. This upgrades the reliability of the testing of the treating device performed by the ECU 86. The flow rate of air in the intake passage 80 is high when the vehicle is moving. Hence, the purge control valve 85 is controlled by a relatively large duty ratio and causes the S/N ratio to become rather high. Contrarily, the flow rate of the air becomes small when the vehicle is not moving (when the engine is idling). Hence, the purge control valve 85 is controlled by a relatively small duty ratio and causes the S/N ratio to become rather low. If the testing of the treating device is executed under the condition that the duty ratio is the same when the vehicle is moving and when the engine is idling, the S/N ratio during these two states becomes inadequate.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, it is a primary objective of the present invention to provide a testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device that appropriately performs testing on a switching means, which enables a pressure detecting means to selectively detect the pressure in a tank side of a purge control valve and a canister side of the control valve, to appropriately determine malfunctions related with the sealing of both the tank side and the canister side.

Another objective of the present invention is to provide a testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device that performs a highly reliable testing of the switching means in addition to the above objective.

A further objective of the present invention is to provide a testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device, which adjusts the flow rate of the fuel passing through a purge line by duty controlling the opening of a purge control valve, enabling appropriate test the treating device regardless of vibrations produced during the movement of the vehicle.

To achieve the foregoing and other objects and in accordance with the purpose of the present invention, a testing apparatus for a fuel vapor treating device is provided. The treating device including a canister for collecting fuel vapor generated in a fuel tank through a vapor line, wherein the fuel in the tank is supplied to an engine, a purge line for purging the collected fuel in the canister into an air intake passage of the engine by a negative intake pressure generated in the intake passage during operation of the engine, a vapor control valve for adjusting a flow of the fuel vapor passing therethrough from the tank to the canister, wherein the vapor control valve opens in accordance with a difference between the pressure of the tank and the pressure of the canister. The apparatus comprises pressure detecting device for detecting the pressure at a tank side of the vapor control valve and at a canister side of the vapor control valve. The apparatus comprises switching device for switching a connection of the pressure detecting device between the tank side and the canister side to detect the pressure of the tank side and the canister side selectively. The apparatus comprises first testing device for testing individually for a malfunction related to a sealing of the tank side and a malfunction related to a sealing of the canister side based on the detected pressures of the tank side and the canister side. The apparatus comprises control device for controlling the switching device to switch the connection of the pressure detecting device wherein the connection is switched selectively to the canister side before a engine starting so as to detect a pressure of the canister side as a first pressure and to the tank side immediately after the engine starting so as to detect a pressure of the tank side as a second pressure. The apparatus comprises second testing device for determining that the switching device is functioning normally when a difference value between the first pressure and the second pressure is equal to or larger than a predetermined value.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The features of the present invention that are believed to be novel are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description of the presently preferred embodiments together with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic view showing a fuel vapor treating device and its testing apparatus;

FIG. 2 is a block circuit diagram illustrating the structure of an ECU;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart showing a portion of a "first testing routine";

FIG. 4 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart illustrating a portion of the routine in FIG. 3 in detail;

FIG. 12 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a flowchart illustrating a portion of the routine in FIG. 4 in detail;

FIG. 14(a) through FIG. 14(n) are time charts illustrating the behavior of various parameters;

FIG. 15(a) through FIG. 15(k) are time charts illustrating the behavior of various parameters;

FIG. 16(a) through FIG. 16(j) are time charts illustrating the behavior of various parameters;

FIG. 17(a) through FIG. 17(c) are time charts illustrating the behavior of various parameters;

FIG. 18 is a flowchart showing a "second testing routine";

FIG. 19 is a flowchart showing another testing routine;

FIG. 20 is a flowchart continuing from FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is a flowchart illustrating a portion of the routine in FIG. 20 in detail;

FIG. 22(a) through FIG. 22(c) are time charts illustrating the behavior of the canister side pressure;

FIG. 23 is a flowchart illustrating a portion of the routine in FIG. 20 in detail;

FIG. 24 is a flowchart illustrating a portion of the routine in FIG. 20 in detail;

FIG. 25 is a time chart illustrating the behavior of the canister side pressure before and after purge cutting;

FIG. 26 is a flowchart illustrating a portion of the routine in FIG. 20 in detail;

FIG. 27 is a time chart illustrating the behavior of the tank side pressure;

FIG. 28 is a schematic view showing a prior art fuel vapor treating device; and

FIG. 29 is a schematic view showing a testing apparatus for the prior art fuel vapor treating device.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

A first embodiment of a testing apparatus for a vehicle fuel vapor treating device according to the present invention will hereafter be described with reference to the drawings.

Referring to FIG. 1, a gasoline engine system of a vehicle 40 has a fuel tank 1 in which fuel is reserved. The tank 1 includes a filler pipe 2 to charge fuel, or refuel the tank 1. The pipe 2 has a filler hole 2a into which a fuel nozzle (not shown) is inserted during refueling of the tank 1. The filler hole 2a is closed by a removable cap 3.

The fuel inside the tank 1 is drawn into a pump 4, incorporated in the tank 1, and discharged therefrom. A main line 5 extending from the pump 4 is connected to a delivery pipe 6. A plurality of injectors 7, provided in the pipe 6, are aligned with cylinders of an engine 8. A return line 9 extending from the pipe 6 is connected to the tank 1. Operation of the pump 4 causes the fuel discharged from the pump 4 to be sent to the delivery pipe 6 via the main line 5. The delivery pipe 6 distributes fuel to each injector 7. As each injector 7 is actuated, the fuel is injected into an intake passage 10. The intake passage 10 includes an air cleaner 11 and a surge tank 10a. Air flows through the air cleaner 11 and is purified when it flows therethrough. The fuel, injected from the injectors 7, is mixed with air and supplied to each cylinder of the engine 8 for combustion. The residual fuel that is not distributed to the injectors 7 is returned to the tank 1 via the return line 9. The exhaust gas produced during combustion is emitted into the atmosphere from the cylinders of the engine 8 through an exhaust passage 12.

The fuel vapor treating device of this embodiment collects and treats vaporized fuel produced in the tank 1 without releasing the fuel into the atmosphere. The fuel vapor treating device has a canister 14 to collect vaporized fuel flowing through the vapor line 13. The canister 14 is filled with an adsorbent 15 comprised of activated carbon or the like. The canister 14 includes an accommodating space, where the adsorbent 15 is accommodated, and opened spaces 14a, 14b, defined above and below the adsorbent 15.

A first control valve 16, which is a check valve, is provided in the canister 14. The control valve 16 opens when the interior pressure of the canister 14 becomes smaller than the atmospheric pressure. When opened, the control valve 16 allows atmospheric air to be drawn into the canister 14 while preventing a flow of gas in the reverse direction. An air pipe 17 extending from the control valve 16 is connected to a position near the air cleaner 11. This structure enables atmospheric air, purified by the air cleaner 11, to be drawn into the canister 14. The canister 14 is also provided with a second control valve 18, which is also a check valve. The control valve 18 opens when the interior pressure of the canister 14 becomes greater than the atmospheric pressure. When opened, the control valve 18 allows gas (internal pressure) to be released from the canister 14 through an outlet pipe 19 while preventing a reversed flow of the gas.

A vapor control valve 20, provided in the canister 14, controls the flow rate of the vaporized fuel, passing therethrough from the tank 1 to the canister 14. The control valve 20 opens in accordance with the difference between the interior pressure PT at the side of the tank 1 including the vapor line 13 (hereafter referred to as tank pressure) and the interior pressure PC at the side of the canister 14 (hereafter referred to as canister pressure). When opened, the control valve 20 allows vaporized fuel to flow into the canister 14 from the tank 1. In other words, the control valve 20 opens and allows vaporized fuel to enter the canister 14 when the value of the canister pressure PC becomes approximately the same as the atmospheric pressure and thus becomes smaller than the tank pressure PT. The control valve 20 also allows gas to flow toward the tank 1 from the canister 14 when the canister pressure PC becomes higher than the tank pressure PT.

A purge line 21, extending from the canister 14, is connected to the surge tank 10a. The canister 14 collects fuel introduced through the vapor line 13 and discharges only the residual gas, from which fuel components have been extracted, into the atmosphere through the outlet pipe 19 when the control valve 18 is opened. When the engine 8 is running, the negative pressure produced in the intake passage 10 acts on the purge line 21. This causes the fuel collected in the canister 14 to be purged into the intake passage 10 through the purge line 21. A purge control valve 22, provided in the purge line 21, adjusts the flow rate of fuel passing through the line 21 when required by the engine 8. The control valve 22 is an electromagnetic valve that includes a casing and a valve body (neither is shown). The valve body is moved by an electric signal (duty signal) to open the control valve 22. The opening of the control valve 22 is duty controlled.

Duty control refers to the controlling of the energized time period based on a duty ratio. The duty ratio is obtained from the ratio of the energized time period with respect to the time period of a single cycle. Furthermore, the average electric current is variably controlled by digitally altering the ratio of the energized time period with respect to the non-energized time period. In this embodiment, duty control particularly refers to intermittent opening of the control valve 22 based on the duty ratio.

The testing apparatus, which performs testing of the sealing of the treating device, includes a pressure sensor 41. The pressure sensor 41 is capable of separately detecting the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC. A three-way valve 23 having three ports is provided with the pressure sensor 41. The three-way valve 23 connects a selected two of the three ports together based on electric signals. A first port of the three-way valve 23 is connected to the sensor 41. A second port is connected to the vapor line 13 at the tank 1 side of the control valve 20. A third port is connected to the canister 14. By switching the connected pair of ports of the three-way valve 23 when required, the pressure sensor 41 becomes selectively connected with either the vapor line 13 or the canister 14. The switching enables the pressure sensor 41 to selectively detect either the tank pressure PT or the canister pressure PC. In this embodiment, priority is given to the detection of the tank pressure PT. Thus, the three-way valve 23 is set to be connected to the vapor line 13 in case it cannot be switched by electric signals.

Various sensors 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 detect the running condition of the engine 8 and the vehicle 40. The intake air temperature sensor 42, which is near the air cleaner 11, detects the temperature of the air drawn into the intake passage 10, or an intake air temperature THA, and transmits a signal based on the detected temperature value. The intake flow rate sensor 43, located near the air cleaner 11, detects the intake flow rate Q of the air drawn into the intake passage 10 and transmits a signal based on the detected flow rate. The coolant temperature sensor 44, provided on the engine 8, detects the temperature of the coolant flowing through an engine block 8a, or a coolant temperature THW, and transmits a signal based on the detected temperature value. The engine speed sensor 45, provided in the engine 8, detects the revolution speed of a crank shaft 8b, or the engine speed NE, and transmits a signal based on the detected speed. The oxygen sensor 46, provided in the exhaust passage 12, detects the oxygen concentration Ox of the exhaust gas passing through the exhaust passage 12 and transmits a signal based on the detected value. The vehicle speed sensor 47, provided in the vehicle 40, detects the vehicle speed SPD and transmits a signal based on the detected speed.

An electronic control unit (ECU) 51 receives the signals transmitted from the sensors 41-47. The ECU 51 commands the treating device and controls fuel purging. The ECU 51 controls the purge control valve 22 and purges fuel from the canister 14 to the intake passage 10 at a flow rate corresponding to the running condition of the engine 8. That is, the ECU 51 sends a duty signal to the purge control valve 22 that is necessary to control the opening of the valve 22 in correspondence with a required duty ratio DPG.

The fuel purged into the intake passage 10 from the canister 14 influences the air-fuel ratio in the engine 8. The influence on the air-fuel ratio is taken into consideration by the ECU 51 when determining the opening of the purge control valve 22 in accordance with the running condition of the engine 8. Generally, a high air-fuel ratio results in an increase in carbon monoxide (CO) concentration of the exhaust gas from an engine. Thus, the ECU 51 computes a purge concentration FGPG (a purge concentration FGPGI during idling of the engine 8) from the oxygen concentration Ox of the exhaust gas detected by the oxygen sensor 46. Based on the computed value, the ECU 51 determines the duty ratio DPG for the opening of the purge control valve 22, and transmits a duty signal in accordance with the value of the determined duty ratio DPG to the purge control valve 22.

The ECU 51 also commands the testing apparatus. In accordance with the results detected by the sensors 41-47, the ECU 51 switches the connected ports of the three-way valve 23 and selectively reads either the value of the tank pressure PT or the canister pressure PC, which are detected by the pressure sensor 41. The ECU 51 performs tests related to the sealing of the tank side and the sealing of the canister side based on the values of the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC.

In other words, when the pressure sensor 41 detects the tank pressure PT, the ECU 51 judges whether or not the detected value matches a predetermined value corresponding to the running condition of the engine 8. When the detected value matches the predetermined value, the ECU 51 determines that the tank side is in a normal state. When the detected value differs from the predetermined value, the ECU 51 determines that the tank side is malfunctioning. In the same manner, when the pressure sensor 41 detects the canister pressure PC, the ECU 51 judges whether or not the detected value matches a predetermined value corresponding to the running condition of the engine 8. When the detected value matches the predetermined value, the ECU 51 determines that the canister side is functioning normally. When the detected value differs from the predetermined value, the ECU 51 determines that there is a malfunction in the canister side.

The ECU 51 performs tests of the purge control valve 22 and the three-way valve 23 based on the values detected by the sensors 41-47. A warning lamp 24, arranged on an instrument panel in front of the driver's seat, informs the driver of the result of the tests performed by the ECU 51. The warning lamp 24 is lit when there is a malfunction in the treating device or the testing apparatus. The lamp 24 remains turned off when the treating device and the testing apparatus are in a normal state. The ECU 51 is energized by a battery 25 and concurrently judges the voltage state of the battery 25.

As shown in the block diagram of FIG. 2, the ECU 51 includes a central processing unit (CPU) 52, a read-only memory (ROM) 53, a random access memory (RAM) 54, a backup RAM 55, and a timer counter 56. In the ECU 51, a logical computing circuit is formed by the CPU 52, the ROM 53, the RAM 54, the backup RAM 55, the timer counter 56, an external input circuit 57, an external output circuit 58, and a bus 59, which connects these parts to one another. The ROM 53 prestores a predetermined program related to the fuel purging and malfunction testing. The RAM 54 temporarily stores the computed results of the CPU 52. The backup RAM 55 prestores data. The timer counter 56 simultaneously executes a plurality of time measurements. The external input circuit 57 includes a buffer, a waveform shaping circuit, a hard filter (a circuit having an electric resistor and a condenser), and an analog to digital (A/D) converter. The external output circuit 58 includes a drive circuit. The sensors 41-47 and the battery 25 are connected to the external input circuit 57. The purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the warning lamp 24 are connected to the external output circuit 58.

The detected signals of the sensors 41-47 and a voltage value VAE of the battery 25 sent via the external input circuit 57 are read by the CPU 52 as input values. The CPU 52 controls the control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the warning lamp 24 to perform fuel purging and testing based on the input values.

The processing performed by the ECU 51 will now be described. FIGS. 3 to 13 illustrate a flowchart of a "first testing routine" through which the testing is performed. The ECU 51 periodically executes the routine for every predetermined time period. Control programs related to various routines are prestored in the ROM 53 of the ECU 51.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, in steps 100, 110, the ECU 51 processes the values detected by the pressure sensor 41.

That is, when the three-way valve 23 is not switched by the ECU 51, the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the vapor line 13 at the tank side. Accordingly, in step 100, the ECU 51 processes the tank pressure PT, detected by the pressure sensor 41, in the hard filter and stores a processed value PTAD in the RAM 54. By using the hard filter to process the value of the tank pressure PT, noise of the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 is eliminated.

When the ECU 51 switches the three-way valve 23, the pressure sensor 41 becomes connected to the canister side. Accordingly, in step 100, the ECU 51 processes the canister pressure PC, detected by the pressure sensor 41, in the hard filter and stores a processed value PTAD ("PTAD" is used commonly for both the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC) in the RAM 54. In the same manner as the detected value of the tank pressure PT, the usage of the hard filter to process the value of the canister pressure PC eliminates noise of the value detected by the pressure sensor 41.

In step 110, the ECU 51 smoothens the processed value PTAD, or processes the processed value PTAD in a soft filter to obtain an average value, or smoothed value PTSM. The ECU 51 stores the smoothed value PTSM in the RAM 54. The ECU 51 stores the smoothed value PTSM related to the tank pressure PT and the smoothed value PTSM related to the canister pressure PC in the RAM 54. By using the soft filter to process the processed value PTAD, pulsation of the detected value of the pressure sensor 41, caused when time elapses, is eliminated.

An example of the behavior of the values (PT, PC) detected by the pressure sensor 41, the processed value PTAD, and the smoothed value PTSM are shown in FIGS. 17(a) through 17(c). The relationship between the detected values (PT, PC) before processing and the processed value after processing is apparent from these charts.

In step 200, the ECU 51 determines where the pressure sensor 41 is to be connected and controls the three-way valve 23. That is, the ECU 51 determines whether to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side or the canister side. This process will be described with reference to FIGS. 11 and 12.

At step 201, the ECU 51 incrementally adds the value of a continuation time CTPC to the time measured by the timer counter 56. The continuation time CTPC is timed from when the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side.

At step 202, the ECU 51 judges whether the value of a continuation time CPCT, which is timed from when the connection of the pressure sensor 41 is switched from the tank side to the canister side, is shorter than 0.13 seconds. The ECU 51 incrementally adds the value of the continuation time CPCT through a process described later. The value of 0.13 seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the value of the continuation time CPCT is equal to or longer than 0.13 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to steps 217, 218 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the canister side.

At step 217, the ECU 51 connects the pressure sensor 41 to the canister side by electrically switching the three-way valve 23. To indicate that the pressure sensor 41 has been the switched to the canister side, a switching flag XTPC is set to zero. At step 218, the ECU 51 resets the continuation time CTPC to zero.

When the continuation time CPCT is shorter than 0.13 seconds in step 202, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 203 and judges whether a running time CAST is shorter than five minutes. The ECU 51 incrementally adds the value of the running time CAST, which is timed from when the engine 8 is started. The value of five minutes is merely an example. In this case, if the running time CAST is shorter than five minutes, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 204.

At step 204, the ECU 51 judges whether the running time CAST is equal to or longer than 0.13 seconds and lower than 3.76 seconds. The values of 0.13 seconds and 3.76 seconds are merely examples. In this case, if the running time CAST is within the range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side.

At step 216, the ECU 51 connects the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side by stopping the supply of electricity to the three-way valve 23. To indicate the connection to the tank side, the switching flag XTPC is set at one.

If the running time CAST is not in the above range in step 204, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 205 and judges whether the running time CAST is equal to or longer than 8.5 seconds. The value of 8.5 seconds is merely an example. In this case, if the running time CAST is equal to or longer than 8.5 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. When the running time CAST is shorter than 8.5 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 217 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the canister side.

When the running time CAST is equal to or longer than five minutes in step 203, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 206. At step 206, the ECU 51 judges whether a conditional flag XZE is set at zero. The conditional flag XZE indicates whether the conditions required to perform the testing are satisfied. When the conditional flag XZE is set at zero, which indicates that the testing conditions are unsatisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. If the conditional flag XZE is set at one, which indicates that the testing conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 207.

At step 207, the ECU 51 judges whether the various types of tests have been completed. That is, the ECU 51 judges whether the canister side sealing, the purge control valve 22, and the three-way valve 23 have all been tested. If each testing has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. In the case that these tests have not been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 208.

At step 208, the ECU 51 judges whether certain conditions are satisfied. These conditions consist of the canister side being in a sealed state, history flags XJC, XJ3 being set at zero, and either the vehicle speed SPD being lower than seven km/h or an elapsed time CPGCF, timed from when the canister side test is completed, being equal to or longer than five seconds. The history flag XJC indicates the history of malfunctions such as the purge control valve 22 being fixed to the casing with its valve body in a closed state. The history flag XJ3 indicates the history of malfunctions in which switching of the three-way valve 23 were impossible. When these conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. If these conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 209.

At step 209, the ECU 51 judges whether certain conditions are satisfied. These conditions consist of the canister side in a state that is not airtight, either one of the history flags XJC, XJ3 being set at one, and the vehicle speed SPD being equal to or higher than three km/h. When these conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. If these conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 210.

At step 210, the ECU 51 judges whether there is a history of the computation of a tank pressure PTPN, which value indicates the pressure to be detected during purging of the fuel to the intake passage 10 from the canister 14. When there is no computation history, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. If there is a computation history, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 211.

At step 211, the ECU 51 judges whether an elapsed time CDPTS is shorter than five seconds while also judging whether malfunction flags XVT3 and XVC3 are zero. The elapsed time CDPTS indicates the time period starting when computation of a pulsation value DPTASM is initiated in the case that pulsation of the tank pressure PT occurs. The malfunction flags XVT3 and XVC3 indicate the test result of the three-way valve 23. In other words, in step 211, the ECU 51 judges whether the computation of the pulsation value DPTASM of the tank pressure PT is incomplete while also judging whether the determination of the state of the three-way valve 23 is incomplete. The pulsation value DPTASM is obtained when the output of the pressure sensor 41 is indicated by a rectangular wave. When these conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 216 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. If these conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 212.

At step 212, the ECU 51 judges whether the value of a purge concentration FGPG, which is calculated based on the value detected by the oxygen sensor 46, is equal to or greater than 0.95 and whether the value of the purge concentration FGPGI, purged during idling of the engine 8, is equal to or greater than 0.90. The values of 0.95, 0.90, which are exemplary, indicate that the purge concentrations FGPG, FGPGI are both relatively lean. When these conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 300 shown in FIG. 3. If these conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 213.

At step 213, the ECU 51 judges whether the value of the duty ratio DPG, which is related to the opening of the purge control valve 22, is equal to or greater than 18%. The value of 18% is merely an example. In this case, when the value of the duty ratio DPG is lower than 18%, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 300. If the duty ratio DPG is equal to or greater than 18%, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 214.

At step 214, the ECU 51 judges whether an engine load GN is lower than a reference value c1. The ECU 51 utilizes a separate routine to calculate the engine load GN from the air intake flow rate Q, detected by the intake flow rate sensor 43, and the engine speed NE, detected by the engine speed sensor 45. In this case, when the engine load GN is equal to or higher than the reference value c1, indicating that the engine load GN is rather large, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 300. If the engine load GN is smaller than the reference value c1, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 215.

At step 215, the ECU 51 determines whether the continuation time CTPC, which indicates how long the pressure sensor 41 has been connected to the tank side, is equal to or longer than five seconds. The value of five seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the continuation time CTPC is shorter than five seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 300. If the continuation time CTPC is equal to or longer than five seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 217 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the canister side.

According to the above sequence of steps, the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side when the engine 8 is started. The pressure sensor 41 is then connected to the tank side during the time range of 0.13 seconds to 3.76 seconds after starting the engine 8. During the time range of 3.76 seconds to 8.5 seconds after starting the engine 8, the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side. After 8.5 seconds, the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side.

As shown in FIG. 3, in steps 300 and 310, the ECU 31 sets a completion flag XJE3 at approximately when the engine 8 is started. The completion flag XJE3 indicates the completion of the test of the three-way valve 23.

That is, at step 300, the ECU 51 judges whether the starting of the engine 8 has been completed. This is determined by judging whether the engine speed NE is lower than a predetermined value, e.g., 450 rpm, from the value detected by the engine speed sensor 45. When the starting of the engine 8 has not been completed, the ECU 51 sets the completion flag XJE3 at one in step 310 and then proceeds to step 400. When the starting of the engine 8 has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 430 from step 300.

In steps 400 to 490, the ECU 51 processes the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 during the timing when the starting of the engine 8 is about to be completed.

At step 400, the ECU 51 judges whether the voltage VAE of the battery 25 is equal to or lower than 6V. The ECU 51 compares the output value from the pressure sensor 41 with a predetermined value and then reads the value. In this case, a reference voltage employed as the predetermined value is determined based on the battery voltage VAE. When the battery voltage is equal to or lower than 6V, sufficient voltage required for the reference value is not obtained. Insufficient voltage results in an inaccurate reading from the pressure sensor 41.

At step 410, the ECU 51 judges whether a canister pressure PCSTO, previously obtained when starting the engine 8, is equal to or lower than the smoothed value PTSM of the currently obtained tank pressure PT. When the canister pressure PCSTO is greater than the smoothed value PTSM, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 450. If a canister pressure PCSTO is greater than the smoothed value PTSM, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 420. At step 420, the ECU 51 calculates the canister pressure PCST (equal to the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure PT) during the current starting of the engine 8 from the detected value of the pressure sensor 41, and stores the calculated result in the RAM 54.

When the ECU 51 proceeds to step 430 from step 300, the ECU 51 judges whether there is a history of computation of the canister pressure PCST during the starting of the engine 8. When such history exists, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 450. If such history does not exist, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 440 and computes the canister pressure PCST (equal to the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure PT) during the current starting of the engine 8 from the detected value of the pressure sensor 41. The ECU 51 stores the calculated result.

At step 450, the ECU 51 determines whether the running time CAST is shorter than 3.37 seconds. The value of 3.37 seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the running time CAST is shorter than 3.37 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 460 and computes a canister pressure PTST (the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure PT) during the starting of the engine 8 from the detected value of the pressure sensor 41. The ECU 51 stores the calculated result in the RAM 54. When the running time CAST is equal to or longer than 3.37 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 470. That is, the ECU 51 keeps the canister pressure PCST during the starting of the engine 8 stored until the starting of the engine 8 is completed. After completion of the engine starting, the tank pressure PTST during the starting of the engine is stored in the RAM 54 until 3.37 seconds elapse from when the engine is started.

At step 470, the ECU 51 judges whether the running time CAST is shorter than five seconds. The value of five seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the running time CAST is equal to or longer than five seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 500. If the running time CAST is shorter than five seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 480 and calculates a starting coolant temperature THWST (equal to the smoothed value of the coolant temperature THW) based on the value detected by the coolant temperature sensor 44. The ECU 51 stores the calculated result in the RAM 54. At step 490, the ECU 51 calculates a starting intake air temperature THAST (smoothed value of the intake air temperature THA) based on the value detected by the intake air temperature sensor 42 and stores the calculated result in the RAM 54. That is, the ECU 51 keeps the starting temperature THWST and the starting intake air temperature THAST stored in the RAM 54 until five seconds elapses from after the engine 8 is started.

As shown in FIG. 4, the ECU 51 processes the conditions required for the performance of the test of the treating device in step 500. The steps of the processing are shown in FIG. 13.

At step 501, the ECU 51 judges whether malfunctions related to parts other than the treating device, such as the engine 8, have been found. The ECU 51 judges the occurrence of such malfunctions from the signals detected by the sensors 42-47. When these malfunctions are found, the conditions required to perform testing of the treating device are not satisfied. Thus, at step 507 the ECU 51 sets the conditional flag XZE is set at zero. When it is determined that there are no malfunctions, which are related to parts other than the treating device, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 502.

At step 502, the ECU 51 judges whether the starting coolant temperature THWST is within a1 range of predetermined values a1 to b1. The range of the predetermined values a1 to b refers to the temperature range in which fuel evaporation takes place. When the starting coolant temperature THWST is not within the range of the predetermined values a1 to b1, which indicates that the conditions required to test the treating device are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 507. If the starting temperature THWST is within the range of the predetermined values a1 to b1, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 503.

At step 503, the ECU 51 judges whether the starting intake air temperature THAST, which indicates the temperature of the intake air during starting of the engine 8, is within the range a1 to b1. When the starting intake air temperature THAST is not within the range a1 to b1, indicating that the conditions required to test the treating device are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 507. When the starting intake air temperature THAST is within the range of the predetermined values a1 to b1, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 504.

At step 504, the ECU 51 judges whether there is no difference between the values of the starting coolant temperature THWST and the starting intake air temperature THAST. When there is a difference between the two temperatures, indicating that the conditions required for testing the treating device are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 507. If there is no difference between the two values, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 505.

As step 505, the ECU 51 judges whether the pressure sensor 41 is functioning normally. The ECU 51 executes a test of the pressure sensor 41 through a different processing routine. When a malfunction in the pressure sensor 41 is confirmed, and one of the conditions required for testing of the treating device is unsatisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 507. If the pressure sensor 41 is functioning properly, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 506 and sets the conditional flag XZE to one to indicate that the conditions required for testing of the treating device are satisfied.

After processing of the steps related to the conditions required for the testing of the treating device, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 600, shown in FIG. 4. In steps, 600 to 670, the ECU 51 calculates the value of the tank pressure PTPN during fuel purging.

At step 600, the ECU 51 judges whether the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side. The ECU 51 determines the connection from the controlling history of the three-way valve 23. When the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 800. If the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 610.

At step 610, the ECU 51 judges whether the value of the duty ratio DPG is within the range of equal to or greater than 18% to lower than 50%. Duty control of the purge control valve 22 during operation of the engine 8 causes pulsation of the negative intake pressure applied to the purge line 21 from the intake air passage 10. The above range is the range in which pulsation is apt to occur. The range of 18% to 50% is merely an example. When the duty ratio DPG is not included in this range, indicating that pulsation is unlikely to occur, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 700. If the duty ratio DPG is included in this range, indicating that pulsation is apt to occur, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 620.

At step 620, the ECU 51 judges whether a delayed time CDPG, timed from when fuel purging is commenced, is equal to or longer than three seconds. When fuel purging is commenced, a certain period of time is necessary until the pressure change is transmitted to the pressure sensor 41. Step 620 compensates for the delay in the transmission of pressure after commencement of the purging. The value of three seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the delayed time CDPG is shorter than three seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 700. If the delayed time CDPG is equal to or longer than three seconds and thus ensures commencement of fuel purging, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 630 and sets a fuel purge commencement flag XJPG to one.

At step 640, the ECU 51 judges whether the commencement flag XJPG has a history of being set at one. If there is no such history, the commencement flag XJPG is set at one for the first time. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 650 and sets the completion flag XJE3 to zero indicating that the testing of the three-way valve 23 has been completed. Afterwards, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 660. When a history of the commencement flag XJPG being set at one is confirmed at step 640, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 660.

At step 660, the ECU 51 judges whether the engine load GN is smaller than a predetermined reference value d. When the engine load GN is equal to or greater than a reference value d, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 700. If the engine load GN is smaller than the reference value d, which indicates that the engine load GN is rather small, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 670. At step 670, the ECU 51 computes the value of the tank pressure PTPN (equal to the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure PT) during fuel purging and stores the calculated value in the RAM 54. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 700.

As shown in FIG. 5, in steps 700-790, the ECU 51 computes the pulsation value DPTASM of the tank pressure PT to judge whether there is a pulsation in the tank pressure PT. The ECU 51 also calculates a differential value (differential smoothed value) DPTSM related to the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure PT used in the computation of the pulsation value DPTASM.

At step 700, the ECU 51 judges whether the vehicle 40 is stopped and the engine 8 is idling from the detected values of the engine speed NE and the vehicle speed SPD. Vibrations caused by the movement of the vehicle 40 may cause instantaneous opening of the vapor control valve 20 and result in a change in the tank pressure PT. The ECU 51 executes step 700 to avoid such changes and to calculate stable values. When the vehicle 40 is not moving and the engine is not idling, the ECU 51 decides not to compute the differential smoothed value DPTSM and proceeds to step 800. If the vehicle 40 is not moving and the engine 8 is idling, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 710.

At step 710, the ECU 51 determines whether the value of the duty ratio DPG is in the range of equal to or greater than 18% and smaller than 50%. When the duty ratio DPG is not within this range, indicating that pulsation of the pressure is not likely to occur, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 800. When the duty ratio DPG is within this range, indicating that pulsation of the pressure is likely occur, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 720.

At step 720, the ECU 51 judges whether the delayed time CDPG, timed from when the fuel purging is commenced, is equal to or longer than 0.26 seconds. The value of 0.26 seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the delayed time CDPG is shorter than 0.26 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 800. If the delayed time CDPG is equal to or longer than 0.26 seconds, ensuring that fuel purging has been commenced and the pulsation of the pressure in the purge line 21 has been transmitted to the pressure sensor 41, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 730.

At step 730, the ECU 51 determines whether calculation of the differential smoothed value DPTSM is incomplete. The ECU 51 determines whether the calculation has been completed by judging if the time elapsed from when computation of the differential smoothed value DPTSM has been commenced is shorter than a predetermined length of time. When the computation has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 800. If the computation is incomplete, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 740.

At step 740, the ECU 51 judges whether the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 does not exceed the output range of the sensor 41. When the detected value exceeds the output range, which indicates that the negative pressure acting on the pressure sensor 41 is excessive and thus pressure pulsation is unlikely to occur in the purge line 21, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 750. At step 750, the ECU 51 lowers the upper limit value of the duty ratio DPG to suppress the detected value of the pressure sensor 41 within the range of its output range and then proceeds to step 760 afterwards. For example, the ECU 51 decreases the upper limit value of the duty ratio DPG to 30% from 50%. By decreasing the upper limit value of the duty ratio DPG, pressure pulsation becomes apt to occur in the purge line 21. When the detected value of the pressure sensor 41 does not exceed the output range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 760 from step 740.

At step 760, the ECU 51 judges whether there is a sudden change in the smoothed value PTSM. When there is a sudden change in the smoothed value PTSM, the ECU 51 prohibits the computing of the pulsation value DPTASM and then proceeds to step 800. If there is no sudden change in the smoothed value PTSM, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 770 to allow the computing of the pulsation value DPTASM.

At step 770, the ECU 51 judges whether the smoothed value PTSM is within the range between values of the predetermined upper limit and lower limit. When the smoothed value PTSM is outside the range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 800 to prohibit the tank side pulsation value DPTASM. If the smoothed value is within the range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 780 to allow computing of the pulsation value DPTASM.

At step 780, the ECU 51 computes the tank side pulsation value DPTASM and stores the computed result in the RAM 54. The ECU 51 computes the tank side pulsation value DPTASM based on the following equation (1):

DPTASM=DPTASMO+(|PTAD-PTSM|)             (1)

DPTASMO represents the previously obtained pulsation value. The ECU 51 obtains the pulsation value DPTASM by incrementally adding the absolute value of the difference between the processed value PTAD, processed by the hard filter, and the average value, or smoothed value PTSM, processed by the hard filter and the soft filter. The pulsation value DPTASM reflects the pulsation of pressure. When the absolute value of the difference between the values PTAD and PTSM is smaller than a certain lower limit value, there is a possibility that the difference indicates the production of noise. In this case, the ECU 51 sets the difference of the values PTAD and PTSM as zero and reflects this in the computation. Through this process, unreliable data is excluded from the computation of the pulsation value DPTASM. The ECU 51 executes the computation of step 780 when the vehicle 40 is not moving and the engine is idling, that is, when vibrations are stabilized.

An example of the behaviors of the processed value PTAD, the smoothed value PTSM, and the pulsation value DPTASM is illustrated in the time charts of FIGS. 17(a)-17(c). It is apparent from these charts that the pulsation value DPTASM may be obtained by incrementally adding the absolute value of the difference between the processed value PTAD and the smoothed value PTSM.

At step 790, the ECU 51 incrementally adds the elapsed time CDPTS, to the time measured by the timer counter 56 from when the computation of the tank side pulsation value DPTASM is initiated, and then proceeds to step 800.

In steps 800-890 shown in FIG. 6, the ECU 51 manipulates the timer counter 56 to check the canister pressure PC and compute a pulsation value DPCASM, which is related to the canister pressure PC.

That is, at step 800, the ECU 51 incrementally adds an elapsed time CPGC, timed by the timer counter 56 from when the checking of the canister pressure PC is initiated.

At step 810, the ECU 51 judges whether the elapsed time CPGC is shorter than three seconds. The value of three seconds is merely an example. When the elapsed time CPGC is equal to or longer than three seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 840. If the elapsed time CPGC is shorter than three seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 820.

At step 820, the ECU 51 judges whether the duty ratio DPG of the purge control valve 22 is lower than 18%. When the duty ratio is lower than 18%, indicating that the opening of the purge control valve 22 is too small to obtain the pulsation value DPCASM, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 870. At step 870, the ECU 51 resets the elapsed time CPGC to zero and then proceeds to step 900. If the duty ratio DPG is equal to or greater than 18%, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 830 from step 820.

At step 830, the ECU 51 judges whether the value of the engine load GN is equal to or greater than a predetermined reference value c1. When the engine load GN is equal to or greater than the reference value c1, which indicates that the negative pressure in the purge line 21 is insufficient, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 870. If the engine load GN is lower than the reference value c1, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 840.

At step 840, the ECU 51 judges whether the switching flag XTPC, which indicates where the pressure sensor 41 is connected to, is set to one. When the switching flag XTPC is set to one, indicating that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side, the canister side pulsation value DPCASM may not be obtained. Thus, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 870. If the switching flag XTPC is set at zero, indicating that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 850.

At step 850, the ECU 51 judges whether the running time CAST, which is timed from when the engine 8 is started, is shorter than 11 seconds. When the running time CAST is shorter than 11 seconds, which indicates that a sufficient length of time has not elapsed since the starting of the engine 8, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 870. If the running time CAST is equal to or longer than 11 seconds, which indicates that a sufficient length of time has elapsed since the starting of the engine 8, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 860.

At step 860, the ECU 51 judges whether the continuation time CPCT, which is timed from when the connection of the pressure sensor 41 is switched from the tank side to the canister side, is equal to or longer than 0.13 seconds. When the continuation time CPCT is equal to or longer than 0.13 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 870. If the continuation time CPCT is shorter than 0.13 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 880. In the case that the ECU 51 proceeds to step 880, an adequate amount of pressure pulsation takes place in the purge line 21 in correspondence with the adjustment of the purge control valve 22.

The elapsed time CPGC is reset to zero and the incremental adding is restarted when the elapsed time CPGC becomes equal to or longer than three seconds and either 1) the switching flag XTPC is set to one or 2) after 11 seconds from the starting of the engine 8, 0.13 seconds has elapsed after the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side from the tank side. The switching flag XTPC indicates that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side. Once the vehicle 40 starts moving, the pressure sensor 41 becomes connected to the tank side only when the vehicle 40 is subsequently stopped.

At step 880, the ECU 51 judges whether the elapsed time CPGC, timed from when the checking of the canister pressure PC is initiated, is within the range starting from a length of time equal to or longer than one second to lower than three seconds. When the elapsed time CPGC is not within the range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 900. When the elapsed time CPGC is within the range, indicating that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 885, 890. An upper limit and a lower limit are set for the timing of the execution of the steps 885, 890.

At step 885, the ECU 51 computes a reference value PCBS of the canister pressure with respect to the current timing. The computed reference value PCBS is stored in the RAM 54.

At step 890, the ECU 51 computes the canister side pulsation value DPCASM and stores the computed result in the RAM 54. The ECU 51 computes the pulsation value DPCASM from the following equation (2):

DPCASM=DPCASMO+(|PTAD-PTSM|)             (2)

DPCASMO represents the previously obtained pulsation value. The ECU 51 obtains the pulsation value DPCASM by incrementally adding the absolute value of the difference between the processed value PTAD, processed by the hard filter, and the average value, or smoothed value PTSM, processed by the hard filter and the soft filter. The pulsation value DPCASM reflects the pulsation of pressure. When the absolute value of the difference between the values PTAD and PTSM is smaller than a certain lower limit value, there is a possibility that the difference indicates the production of noise. In this case, the ECU 51 sets the difference of the values PTAD and PTSM to zero and reflects this in the computation. Through this process, unreliable data is excluded from the computation of the pulsation value DPCASM. If it is determined that the value of the duty ratio is equal to or greater than 18% in step 820, indicating a high possibility of the occurrence of pulsation due to the duty control by the purge control valve 22, the ECU 51 executes the computation of step 890. An example of the behaviors of the processed value PTAD, the smoothed value PTSM, and the pulsation value DPCASM is illustrated in the time charts of FIGS. 17(a)-17(c).

In steps 880, 890, the ECU 51 computes the canister pulsation value DPCASM during the time range of equal to or lower than one second to shorter than three seconds after the checking of the canister pressure PC is initiated. This timing coincides with the timing in which the ECU 51 performs testing of the canister side.

In steps 900-920, the ECU 51 executes processing related to the three-way valve 23.

At step 900, the ECU 51 judges whether the coolant temperature THW has reached the predetermined value, which fuel purging is commenced at, for the first time. The predetermined value of the coolant temperature THW corresponds to the value of the temperature after the engine 8 is warmed up. The predetermined value is also one of the conditions required to start fuel purging. When the coolant temperature THW reaches the predetermined value for the first time, indicating that fuel purging will be performed for the first time, the ECU 51 sets a fuel purging initiation flag XJTH to one at step 910. At step 920, the ECU 51 resets the completion flag XJE3, which indicates that the testing of the three-way valve has been completed, to zero and proceeds to step 1000.

In steps 1000-1080, which are shown in FIG. 7, the ECU 51 manipulates the continuation time CPCT, timed from when the connection of the pressure sensor 41 is switched from the tank side to the canister side.

At step 1000, the ECU 51 judges whether the continuation time CPCT is equal to or longer than 0.13 seconds. When the continuation time CPCT is shorter than 0.13 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1010 and judges whether the elapsed time CTPC, timed from when the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side, is shorter than 2.5 seconds. The value of 2.5 seconds is merely an example. In this case, when the continuation time CTPC is equal to or longer than 2.5 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1080 and resets the continuation time CPCT to zero. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 1200. If the continuation time CTPC is shorter than 2.5 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1020. That is, in step 1010, the ECU 51 detects the tank pressure PT within a sufficient time of 2.5 seconds before switching the connection of the pressure sensor 41 from the tank side to the canister side. If the continuation time CPCT is equal to or longer than 0.13 seconds in step 1000, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1020.

At step 1020, the ECU 51 judges whether the completion flag XJE3 is set at zero. When the completion flag XJE3 is set at one indicating that the testing of the three-way valve 23 has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1080. If the completion flag XJE3 is set at zero indicating that the testing of the three-way valve 23 has not been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1030.

At step 1030, the ECU 51 judges whether there has been a sudden change in the duty ratio DPG value of the purge control valve 22. A sudden change in the duty ratio DPG value indicates a sudden change in the canister pressure PC. Thus, it is confusing when determining whether the behavior of the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 is caused by a sudden change in the canister pressure PC or by the switching of the pressure sensor 41 connection. The ECU 51 executes step 1030 for the assumption of the sudden change in the canister pressure PC before the starting of the engine 8 to avoid confusion. When it is assumed that there is a sudden change in the value of the duty ratio DPG, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1080. If there is no sudden change in the value of the duty ratio DPG, the ECU 51 assumes that there is no sudden change in the canister pressure PC and proceeds to step 1040.

At step 1040, the ECU 51 judges whether the continuation time CPCT has a history of becoming equal to or longer than the upper limit of 1.5 seconds. When it is determined that there is such a history, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1050 and judges whether the vehicle 40 is in a stopped state with the engine 8 idling. If it is determined that this condition is not satisfied at step 1050, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1080. When it is determined that this condition is satisfied at step 1050, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1060.

If it is determined that there is no history of the continuation time CPCT becoming equal to or longer than 1.5 seconds at step 1040, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1060. In other words, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1060 immediately before the pressure sensor 41 switches the section which it is connected to from the tank side to the canister side (when the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 indicates a sufficient signal/noise ratio (S/N ratio)). The ECU 51 also proceeds to step 1060 in the case that 1.5 seconds has elapsed since the switching (when the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 indicates a sufficient S/N ratio) and the vehicle 40 is in a stopped state, which indicates that the vehicle is not vibrating much.

At step 1060, the ECU 51 judges whether the conditional flag XZE is set at one. When the conditional flag XZE is set at zero indicating that the conditions for performing the testing of the three-way valve is unsatisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1080. If the conditional flag XZE is set at one, indicating that the conditions for performing the test of the three-way valve 23 is satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1070 and incrementally adds the value of the continuation time CPCT to the timer counter 56. Afterwards, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1100.

The ECU 51 manipulates the value of the continuation time CPCT in the above manner. Accordingly, in steps 1000-1080, the value of the continuation time CPCT is added when the conditions for stable detection of the canister pressure PC is satisfied while the conditions for testing of the three-way valve 23 are concurrently satisfied. Under other circumstances, the continuation time CPCT is cleared. When the continuation time CPCT is incrementally added, the pressure sensor 41 switches the side to which it is connected from the tank side to the canister side.

In steps 1100 to 1120, the ECU 51 manipulates the completion flag XJE3.

At step 1100, the ECU 51 judges whether a purge initiating flag XJTH is set at one. When the initiating flag XJTH is set at zero indicating that the fuel purging has not yet been started, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1200. If the initiating flag XJTH is set at one, indicating that the fuel purging has started, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1110.

At step 1110, the ECU 51 judges whether the continuation time CPCT is equal to or longer than the upper limit of 1.5 seconds. When the continuation time CPCT is shorter than 1.5 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1200. If the continuation time CPCT is equal to or longer than the upper limit of 1.5 seconds, indicating that the testing of the three-way valve has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1120 and sets the completion flag XJE3 to one. Afterwards, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1200.

As shown in FIG. 8, at step 1200, the ECU 51 judges whether the continuation time CPCT is equal to or shorter than 0.13 seconds. When the continuation time CPCT is longer than 0.13 seconds, this indicates that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side by the three-way valve 23. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1300. If the continuation time CPCT is equal to or shorter than 0.13 seconds, the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side by the three-way valve 23. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1210 and computes a reference value PTBS of the tank pressure PT. The computed value is stored in the RAM 54. In this step, the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure PT is set as the reference value PTBS. At step 1220, the ECU 51 computes a reference value DPGOE, which is used to monitor a sudden change in the duty ratio DPG, and then proceeds to step 1300.

As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, the ECU 51 performs testing of the purge control valve 22 in steps 1300-1319.

At step 1300, the ECU 51 judges whether the running time CAST is shorter than 6.5 seconds. Although the value of 6.5 seconds is merely an example, it is presumed that this value is sufficient for causing negative intake pressure in the intake passage 10 after starting the engine 8. When the running time CAST is equal to or longer than 6.5 seconds, negative intake pressure is presumed to be produced in the intake passage 10. This indicates that fuel purging may be carried out. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1305. If the running time CAST is shorter than 6.5 seconds, there is a possibility that there is no negative intake pressure produced in the intake passage 10. This indicates that fuel purging may not be carried out. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1301.

At step 1301, the ECU 51 judges whether the absolute value of the difference between the canister pressure PCST after starting the engine 8 and the tank pressure PTST after starting the engine 8 is equal to or greater than 15 mmHg. The value of 15 mmHg is merely an example. Under the presumption that there is a malfunction in which the purge control valve 22 becomes fixed to a casing or the like with its valve body remaining in an opened state, the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 before completion of the engine starting would indicate atmospheric pressure. The value detected by the pressure sensor 41 after completion of the engine starting indicates a negative pressure. In this case, by determining whether the absolute value of the difference between the values PCST, PTST is greater than the reference value in step 1301, the ECU 51 determines that there is a difference between the pressure detected by the pressure sensor 41 before and after the completion of the engine starting. When the absolute value of the difference between the values PCST, PTST is smaller than 15 mmHg, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1305. If the absolute value of the difference between the values PCST, PTST is equal to or greater than 15 mmHg, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1302.

At step 1302, the ECU 51 determines whether the value of the tank pressure PTST (absolute value) is smaller than minus 20 mmHg, which corresponds to a negative pressure. In other words, if there is a malfunction in the purge control valve 22 that is related to its opening, negative pressure is detected by the pressure sensor 41 after completion of the starting of the engine 8. Thus, the ECU 51 determines the value of the tank pressure PTST when the engine is started in step 1302. When the tank pressure PTST is equal to or greater than minus 20 mmHg, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1305. If the tank pressure PTST is smaller than minus 20 mmHg, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1303.

At step 1303, the ECU 51 determines whether the running time CAST is within the range of 6 to 6.5 seconds. When the running time CAST is not within this range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1307. If the running time CAST is within this range, there is a possibility that there is a malfunction related to the opening of the purge control valve 22. Thus, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1304 and sets a history flag XJO, which indicates history related to opening malfunctions, to one and stores the flag XJO in the RAM 54. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 1307.

The ECU 51 proceeds to step 1305 from steps 1300 to 1302 and judges whether the running time CAST is within the range of 6 to 6.99 seconds. When the running time CAST is within this range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1306 and sets the history flag XJO to zero and stores the flag XJO in the RAM 54. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 1307. If the running time is not within this range, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1307.

As shown in FIG. 9, in step 1307, the ECU 51 judges whether the conditions required to perform testing of the purge control valve 22 are satisfied. The required conditions are that the condition flag XZE is set at one and the purge control valve 22 is determined to be free from opening malfunctions. When these conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1400. When these conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1308.

At step 1308, the ECU 51 judges whether the testing of the pressure sensor 41 has been completed. The ECU 51 performs the testing of the pressure sensor in accordance with a separate routine. This step is executed by determining whether the running time CAST is equal to or longer than a predetermined value (e.g., 12 seconds). When the testing of the pressure sensor 41 has not been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1311. If the testing of the pressure sensor 41 has not been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1309.

At step 1309, the ECU 51 judges whether the history flag XJO is set at one. When the history flag XJO is set at one indicating that the purge control valve 22 has a history of previous malfunctions, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1310. At step 1310, the ECU 51 determines that the purge control valve 22 is definitely malfunctioning and sets a malfunction flag XPVFO to one. The ECU 51 stores the malfunction flag XPVFO in the backup RAM 55 as testing data. The ECU also lights the warning lamp 24 to warn the driver of the malfunction. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 1311. If the history flag XJO is set at zero indicating that the purge control valve 22 does not have a history of malfunctions, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1311.

In step 1310, the conditions for setting the malfunction flag XPVFO to one when determined that the purge control valve 22 is malfunctioning is as follows.

These conditions are the fuel purging not being performed, in which state the purge control valve 22 should be closed after the starting of the engine 8, the canister pressure PC being negative with respect to the predetermined reference value, and the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 after starting the engine 8 being negative with respect to the value detected by the sensor 41 before starting the engine 8.

At step 1311, the ECU 51 judges whether the elapsed time CPGC, timed from when the checking of the canister pressure PC is started, is 2.9 seconds. The value of 2.9 seconds is merely an example. This value is used as a target to indicate that fuel purging is definitely being performed. When the elapsed time CPGC is not 2.9 seconds, the ECU determines that fuel purging is not being performed and proceeds to step 1400. If the elapsed time CPGC is 2.9 seconds, the ECU 51 determines that fuel purging is being performed and proceeds to step 1312.

At step 1312, the ECU 51 judges whether the canister pressure PC is relatively small as a negative pressure. The ECU 51 carries out this judgement by determining whether the smoothed value PTSM is equal to or greater than a reference value of minus 13 mmHg. When the canister pressure PC is relatively small as a negative pressure, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1313 and judges whether the canister side pulsation value DPCASM is lower than the predetermined reference value k1. In other words, the ECU 51 judges whether there is a pulsation in the canister pressure PC when the purge control valve 22 is operated in correspondence to the predetermined duty ratio DPG. When the pulsation value DPCASM is lower than the reference value k1, there is no pulsation in the canister pressure PC. Thus, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1314. In step 1314, the ECU 51 determines that the purge control valve 22 is fixed to a casing or the like with its valve body in a closed state and is thus malfunctioning. To indicate the malfunction, the history flag XJC is set to one.

At step 1315, the ECU 51 judges whether a previous history flag XJCO is set at one. When the previous history flag XJCO is set at zero indicating that the history flag XJC has been set at one for the first time, the possibility of a malfunction is small. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1400. If the previous history flag XJCO is set at one and the history flag XJC is again set at one, the possibility of a malfunction is high. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1316 and determines that the purge control valve 22 is malfunctioning. To indicate the malfunction, the ECU 51 sets a malfunction flag XPVFC to one. The ECU 51 then stores the value of the malfunction flag XPVFC into the backup RAM 55 as malfunction data and lights the warning lamp 24 to warn the driver. Afterwards, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1400.

The conditions for setting the malfunction flag XPVFC to one are the fuel purging being performed, in which state the purge control valve 22 should be opened, the canister pressure PC being positive with respect to the predetermined reference value, and the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 being free of pulsation. Satisfaction of these conditions are to be confirmed twice.

At step 1311, after the elapsed time CPGC is determined as 2.9 seconds, the moving vehicle 40 being stopped results in the elapsed time CPGC being determined as 2.9 seconds again. Accordingly, the history flag XJC is set as one and then becomes reset as one when the vehicle 40 is stopped. In step 1316, the malfunction flag XPVFC is set to one if the history flag XJC is set to one when the vehicle 40 is stopped after the history flag XJC is set to one when the vehicle 40 is moving.

If the negative pressure of the canister pressure PC is relatively great in step 1312, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1317. If the pulsation value DPCASM is equal to or greater than the reference value k1 in step 1313, which indicates that there is a pulsation in the canister pressure PC, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1317.

At step 1317, the ECU 51 clears the history flag XJC to zero. At step 1318, the ECU 51 judges whether the history flag XJO, which indicates malfunctioning of the purge control valve 22, is set at zero. When the history flag XJO is set at zero, the ECU 51 judges that the purge control valve 22 is functioning normally. Then, in step 1319, the ECU 51 sets each of the two malfunction flags XPVFO, XPVFC to zero and turns off the warning lamp 24. Afterwards, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1400. The ECU 51 also proceeds to step 1400 when the history flag XJO is set at one, indicating that the purge control valve 22 is malfunctioning, in step 1319.

As shown in FIG. 10, in steps 1400-1414, the ECU 51 performs testing of the three-way valve 23.

At step 1400, the ECU 51 judges whether the conditions for performing testing of the three-way valve 23 are satisfied. The conditions are the conditional flag XZE being set at one, the history flag XJ3 being set at zero, and the running time CAST being 11 seconds. The conditional flag XZE set at one indicates that the pressure sensor 41 is functioning normally. The running time CAST being 11 seconds indicates that the starting of the engine 8 has been completed. When these conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 determines that the testing of the three-way valve 23 shall not be performed and thus temporarily terminates subsequent processing. If these conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1401 to perform testing of the three-way valve 23.

At step 1401, the ECU 51 judges whether the absolute value of the difference between the canister pressure PCST during the starting of the engine 8 and the tank pressure PTST during the starting of the engine 8 is lower than 0.73 mmHg. The value of 0.73 mmHg is merely an example. It is presumed here that the three-way valve 23 malfunctions in a state that it becomes fixed to either the tank side or the canister side. In this state, although the pressure sensor 41 selectively detects the tank pressure PTST and the canister pressure PCST, the actual pressure detected is the value of either the tank pressure PTST or the canister pressure PCST. When the absolute value is smaller than 0.73 mmHg, or substantially equal to zero mmHg, there is a possibility of the three-way valve 23 malfunctioning and the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1402. When the absolute value is equal to or greater than 0.73 mmHg, the ECU 51 determines that the three-way valve 23 is functioning properly and proceeds to step 1414. At step 1414, the ECU 51 sets the malfunction flags XVT3 and XVC3 to zero to indicate that the three-way valve 23 is functioning properly, turns off the warning lamp 24, and then temporarily terminates subsequent processing.

At step 1402, the ECU 51 judges whether the continuation time CPCT, which is timed from when the section detected by the pressure sensor 41 is switched from the tank side to the canister side, is equal to or shorter than 0.13 seconds. When the continuation time CPCT is equal to or shorter than 0.13 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1404. If the continuation time CPCT is longer than 0.13 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1403 and judges whether the absolute value of the difference between the reference value PTBS of the tank pressure and the smoothed value PTSM of the tank pressure is lower than 2.9 mmHg. That is, the ECU 51 judges the difference between the values PTBS and PTSM immediately after the connected section of the pressure sensor 41 is changed from the tank side to the canister side. The value of 2.9 mmHg is merely an example. When the absolute value is equal to or greater than 2.9 mmHg, the ECU 51 determines that the three-way valve 23 functions properly since the difference between the values PTBS and PTSM is large. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 1414. If the absolute value is lower than 2.9 mmHg, it is assumed that the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning since the difference between the values PTBS and PTSM is small. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 1404. Accordingly, in step 1030, if it is assumed that there is a sudden change in the canister pressure PC indicating that the conditions for stable detection of the canister pressure PC are not satisfied, the ECU 51 postpones testing of the three-way valve 23. In the same manner, if 2.5 seconds has not elapsed since the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side in step 1010 or if three seconds or more has not elapsed since the initiation of engine idling after the vehicle 40 has been stopped in step 1050, this indicates that the conditions for stable detection of the canister pressure PC are not satisfied. Thus, the ECU 51 postpones testing of the three-way valve 23.

At step 1404, the ECU 51 judges whether the elapsed time CPGC, which is timed from when the checking of the canister pressure PC is started, is 4.4 seconds. The value of 4.4 seconds is merely an example. When the elapsed time CPGC is not equal to 4.4 seconds, the ECU 51 temporarily terminates subsequent processing. When the elapsed time CPGC is equal to 4.4 seconds, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1405.

At step 1405, the ECU 51 judges whether the absolute value of the difference between the reference value PCBS of the canister pressure and the tank pressure PTPN during fuel purging is lower than 0.4 mmHg. The value of 0.4 mmHg is merely an example. When the absolute value is equal to or higher than 0.4 mmHg, this indicates that there is a pressure difference between the canister side and the tank side. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1414. If the absolute value is lower than 0.4 mmHg, there is substantially no difference in the pressure of the canister side and the pressure of the tank side. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1406.

At step 1406, the ECU 51 judges whether the canister side pulsation value DPCASM is lower than the reference value k1. That is, the ECU 51 judges whether there is no pulsation in the canister pressure PC. When the pulsation value DPCASM is lower than the reference value k1, this indicates that the absolute value of the difference between the reference value PCBS of the canister pressure and the tank pressure PTPN is lower than 0.4 mmHg. It also indicates that there is no pulsation in the detected canister pressure PC caused by the pressure sensor 41. These indications are confirmed through steps 1405 and 1406. If the three-way valve 23 malfunctions with the pressure sensor 41 connected to the tank side, the pressure sensor 41 keeps detecting the tank pressure PT. In such state, the pressure sensor 41 does not detect the canister pressure PC regardless of the ECU 51 controlling the three-way valve 23. In addition, since the pressure sensor 41 detects the tank pressure PT when it should detect the canister pressure PC, there is no vibration of the detected value caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22. This indicates that there is no pressure pulsation. Thus, the ECU 51 tentatively determines that the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning with the pressure sensor 41 in a state connected to the tank side. In step 1409, the ECU 51 sets the history flag XJT3 to one to indicate the history of malfunctions. In step 1407, if it is determined that the pulsation value DPCASM is equal to or greater than the reference value k1 indicating that there is a pulsation in the canister pressure PC, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1407.

At step 1407, when the pulsation value DPTASM is equal to or greater than the reference value k1, this indicates that the absolute value of the difference between the reference value PCBS of the canister pressure and the tank pressure PTPN is lower than 0.4 mmHg. It also indicates that there is no pulsation in the detected tank pressure PT caused by the pressure sensor 41. These indications are confirmed through steps 1405-1407. If the three-way valve 23 malfunctions with the pressure sensor 41 connected to the canister side, the pressure sensor 41 keeps detecting the canister pressure PC. In such state, the pressure sensor 41 does not detect the tank pressure PT regardless of the ECU 51 controlling the three-way valve 23. In addition, since the pressure sensor 41 detects the canister pressure PC when it should detect the tank pressure PT, there is no pulsation of the detected value caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22. Thus, the ECU 51 tentatively determines that the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning with the pressure sensor 41 in a state connected to the canister side. In step 1409, the ECU 51 sets the history flag XJC3 to one to indicate the history of malfunctions. In step 1407, if it is determined that the pulsation value DPCASM is lower than the reference value k1 indicating that there is no pulsation of the tank pressure PT, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1408. In step 1408, the ECU 51 assumes that the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally and sets the history flag XJT3 and XJC3 to zero and then proceeds to step 1414.

As the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1410 from step 1409, the ECU 51 judges whether either one of the history flags XJT3 and XJC3 has been changed to one from zero. If it has not been changed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1412. If the history flag XJ3 has been changed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1411 and clears the elapsed time CDPTS and the tank side pulsation value DPTASM to zero to recompute the pulsation value DPTASM. The ECU 51 recomputes the pulsation value DPTASM since there is a possibility that the vibrations produced by the moving vehicle 40 may open the purge control valve 20 and cause the pressure sensor 41 to detect a value which differs from the target value. Thus, steps 1410, 1411 are carried out to avoid such problems.

At step 1412, the ECU 51 judges whether the previous history flags XJT3O or XJC3O is set at one. When the previous history flags XJT3O or XJC3O is set at zero indicating that the history flags XJT3O, XJC3O has been set to one for the first time, the possibility of malfunctions in the three-way valve 23 is small. Thus, the ECU 51 temporarily terminates subsequent processing. If the previous history flags XJT3O, XJC3O is set at one and the history flags XJT3, XJC3 is again set at one, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 1413 and determines that the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning. To indicate the malfunction, the ECU 51 sets the malfunction flags XVT3 or XVC3 to one and stores this in the backup RAM 55 as testing data. The ECU 51 also lights the warning lamp 24 to warn the driver of the malfunction. The ECU 51 then temporarily terminates subsequent processing and waits to restart from step 100 when the next control cycle starts. The processing contents of the "first testing routine" has been described above.

The behavior of various parameters in the above routine will be described with reference to the time charts illustrated in FIGS. 14(a) to 14(n), FIGS. 15(a) to 15(k), and FIGS. 16(a) to 16(j).

FIGS. 14(a) to 14(n) illustrate the behavior of various parameters when the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally. In these drawings, purge cut flag XCPC indicates whether fuel purging is being executed. It is assumed here that there are no other malfunctions in the treating device. Normally, there is a difference in level between the canister pressure PC and the tank pressure PT. This is especially evident before the engine 8 is started in which state negative intake pressure does not influence the canister pressure PC. Since the pressures PT, PC would never indicate the same value, the values detected by the pressure sensor 41 before and after the three-way valve 23 switches the connected side of the pressure sensor 41 would not be identical if the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally.

At time t1, the engine 8 is just about to be started. The condition required to perform testing (conditional flag XZE=1) is satisfied when time t1 elapses.

During the period from time t1 to time t3, the three-way valve 23 switches the side which the pressure sensor 41 is connected to when the engine 8 is started. The differing values of the canister pressure PCST, computed before the engine 8 is started, and the tank pressure PTST, computed immediately after the engine 8 is started, are stored in the RAM 54.

Afterwards, at time t4, corresponding to when the running time CAST becomes 11 seconds, the three-way valve 23 is determined to be functioning normally if the difference between the values of the pressures PCST and PTST is equal to or greater than a predetermined value. In this manner the three-way valve 23 may be tested based on the pressures PCST and PTST which are obtained before and after the starting of the engine 8. If the difference between the values of PCST and PTST are lower than the predetermined value for a certain reason, the testing of the three-way valve 23 is performed in accordance with the following procedures.

During the period between time t5 to time t6, fuel purging performed when the vehicle 40 is traveling initiates the computation of the pressure PTPN, which indicates the tank pressure during fuel purging. The computed value is stored in RAM 54.

The tank side pulsation value DPTASM is then computed when the vehicle 40 is not moving during the period between time t6 to time t7. The computed value is stored in the RAM 54. Since the tank side is free from the influences of pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22, the pulsation value DPTASM is maintained at zero mmHg.

During the period between time t8 to time t10, fuel purging is executed in the traveling vehicle 40 and the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side from the tank side. This causes the smoothed value PTSM and the processed value PTAD to indicate the values of the canister side as where it had been indicating the values of the tank side. The processed value PTAD indicates the pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22. When the elapsed time CPGC, timed from time t8, is in the range of one to three seconds during the period between time t9 to time t10, the canister side pulsation value DPCASM increases gradually.

The canister pressure reference value PCBS is computed during the period between time t10 to time t11 and stored in the RAM 54. When the time t11, the CPGC reaches 4.4 seconds at time t11, the absolute value of the difference between the canister pressure reference value PCBS and the tank pressure PTPN is equal to or greater than a predetermined value. In addition, the canister side pulsation value DPCASM does not indicate zero mmHg (a value equal to or greater than the reference value k1) and the tank side pulsation value DPTASM indicates zero mmHg (lower than the reference value k1). Thus, the three-way valve 23 is judged as functioning normally.

In this embodiment, the processed value PTAD is obtained after noise is eliminated from the value detected by the pressure sensor 41. Thus, in the case that the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 is effected by pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22, the pulsation is appropriately reflected in the processed value PTAD. As a result, a difference, which appropriately reflects the pulsation, is obtained between the processed value PTAD and the smoothed value PTSM, which is obtained by smoothening the processed value PTAD. In addition, the pulsation values DPTASM and DPCASM appropriately reflect the pulsation. Pulsation of the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC increases the pulsation values DPTASM and DPCASM. Therefore, the computation of the tank side and canister side pulsation values DPTASM, DPCASM are executed with accuracy and with satisfactory S/N ratio.

The difference between the processed value PTAD, obtained from a stabilized tank pressure PT, and the smoothed value PTSM is computed when the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally with the vapor control valve 20 in a stabilized state with respect to vibrations, that is, in a state in which the vehicle 40 is stopped and the engine 8 is idling. Hence, when computing the pulsation value DPTASM, the values PTAD, PTSM reflecting pulsation of the pressure PT caused by the vibrations of the vapor control valve 20 are not erroneously used as the values PTAD, PTSM reflecting pulsation of the pressure PC caused by duty control. Furthermore, when the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally and the purge control valve 22 is duty controlled adequately, the pulsation value DPCASM is computed using only the values PTAD, PTSM reflecting pulsation caused by duty control.

Accordingly, it is obvious that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side when the pulsation value DPCASM which reflects pulsation and is equal to or greater than the reference value k1 is obtained. Furthermore, it is obvious that the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the tank side when the pulsation value DPTASM, which does not reflect pulsation and is lower than the reference value k1, is obtained. Therefore, when the above two conditions are both satisfied, the three-way valve 23 properly connects the pressure sensor 41 to the intended side and the ECU 51 determines that the valve 23 is functioning properly. In this manner, the testing apparatus appropriately performs testing with high reliability when the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally.

Additionally, in this embodiment, the difference between the processed value PTAD and the smoothed value PTSM becomes insufficient during detection of the canister pressure PC by the pressure sensor 41 in the case that the opening (duty ratio DPG) becomes lower than 18%. When below 18%, the occurrence of pulsation becomes suppressed. In this case, the pulsation value DPCASM does not become lower than the reference value k1 since the computation of the pulsation value DPCASM is prohibited. Therefore, the pulsation value DPCASM does not become lower than the reference value k1. Accordingly, the reliability of the testing of the three-way valve 23, in which the valve 23 is determined as functioning normally, is further upgraded.

In this embodiment, the three-way valve 23 is tested by confirming the difference between the tank pressure and the canister pressure within a short period of time during the starting of the engine 8. Accordingly, the testing of the three-way valve 23 is performed at an early state when the engine 8 is operated. Hence, the testing of other parts performed subsequently becomes highly reliable.

Testing of the three-way valve 23 is performed before the fuel purging is initiated and immediately after the fuel purging is initiated. This ensures appropriate S/N ratio for the value detected by the pressure sensor 41.

Subsequent to the starting of the engine 8, the testing of the three-way valve 23 is performed immediately after the vehicle 40 is stopped temporarily. The testing is based on the tank side pulsation value DPTASM obtained when the vehicle 40 is not traveling. Therefore, the influence of vibrations produced when the vehicle 40 is moving is ultimately eliminated during testing of the three-way valve 23. This enhances the reliability of the testing of the three-way valve 23.

In this embodiment, the testing of the three-way valve 23 is postponed when the alteration in the duty ratio DPG of the purge control valve 22 is great under the assumption that a sudden change in the canister pressure PC takes place during such alteration. During unstable conditions where a sudden change in the canister pressure PC may take place, it is impossible to appropriately judge the difference between the canister pressure PC and the tank pressure PT. Accordingly, the ECU 51 does not perform testing, which may be erroneous, under such conditions. Therefore, the reliability of the testing of the three-way valve 23 is enhanced.

The testing of the three-way valve 23 is postponed when a certain period of time has not elapsed after the three-way valve 23 connects the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. It is also postponed when a certain period of time has not elapsed since the engine 8 starts idling after the vehicle is stopped. Accordingly, the difference between the canister pressure PC and the tank pressure PT is not obtained under such unstable conditions. Thus, the ECU 51 does not perform erroneous testing of the three-way valve 23. Hence, this enhances the reliability of the testing of the three-way valve 23.

FIGS. 15(a) through 15(k) show the behavior of various parameters when the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning with the pressure sensor 41 connected to the tank side. It is assumed here that there are no other malfunctions in the treating device.

During the period between time t1 to time t3, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 to obtain the pressures PCST, PTST by changing the connected side of the pressure sensor 41 when starting the engine 8. However, a malfunction of the three-way valve 23 results in the pressure sensor 41 detecting only the tank side. This causes the values of the pressures PCST and PTST to be identical. Thus, the three-way valve 23 is subsequently judged as malfunctioning.

Afterwards, when the vehicle 40 is not moving during the period between time t4 to time t5, the pulsation value DPTASM is computed and stored in the RAM 54. Since the pressure sensor 41 is fixed to the tank side in this case, the pulsation value DPTASM is not influenced by the duty control of the purge control valve 22. Thus, the pulsation value DPTASM is maintained at zero mmHg.

Fuel purging is performed when the vehicle 40 is traveling during the period between time t6 to time t9. The tank pressure PTPN is computed at time t6 and stored in the RAM 54.

The pulsation value DPCASM is computed during the period between time t7 to time t8. Since the pressure sensor 41 is fixed to the tank side, the pulsation value DPCASM does not reflect the pulsation caused by duty control of the purge control valve 22. Thus, the pulsation value DPCASM is maintained at zero mmHg.

The canister side reference value PCBS is computed during the period between time t8 to time t9 and stored in the RAM 54. However, since the pressure sensor 41 does not actually detect the canister side, the canister pressure PCBS and the tank pressure PTPN are identical.

The elapsed time CPGC, which is incrementally added from time t6 reaches 4.4 seconds at time t9. The absolute value of the difference between the canister side reference value PCBS and the tank pressure PTPN is lower than the predetermined value. The canister side pulsation value DPCASM and the tank side pulsation value DPTASM are both zero mmHg. Thus, the three-way valve 23 is judged as malfunctioning with the pressure sensor 41 connected to the tank side. This sets both history flags XJT3, XJT3O to one and causes the malfunction flag XVT3 to be set to one. Accordingly, testing of the three-way valve 23 may be performed appropriately with the pressure sensor 41 fixed to the tank side.

FIGS. 16(a) to 16(j) show the behavior of various parameters when the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning with the pressure sensor 41 connected to the canister side.

During the period between time t1 to time t3, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 to obtain the pressures PCST, PTST by changing the connected side of the pressure sensor 41 when starting the engine 8. However, a malfunction of the three-way valve 23 results in the pressure sensor 41 detecting only the canister side. This causes the values of the pressures PCST and PTST to be identical. Thus, the three-way valve 23 is subsequently judged as malfunctioning.

Afterwards, when fuel purging is commenced at time t4, the processed value PTAD of the tank pressure PT is changed to a negative value due to the influence of the negative intake pressure in the intake passage 10. The duty control of the purge control valve 22 causes pulsation of the processed value PTAD.

When the vehicle 40 is not moving during the period between time t5 to time t6, the tank side pulsation value DPTASM is computed and stored in the RAM 54. Since the pressure sensor 41 is fixed to the canister side, the pulsation value DPTASM is influenced by the pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22 and is increased until it reaches its upper limit.

Fuel purging is performed when the vehicle 40 is traveling during the period between time t7 to time t10. The tank pressure PTPN is computed at time t7 and stored in the RAM 54. However, since the pressure sensor 41 does not actually detect the tank side, the detected value indicates the behavior of the canister pressure PC.

The canister side pulsation value DPCASM is computed during the period between time t8 to time t9. Since the pressure sensor 41 is fixed to the canister side, the pulsation value DPCASM is influenced by the pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22 and is increased until it reaches its upper limit.

The canister side reference value PCBS is computed during the period between time t9 to time t10 and stored in the RAM 54.

The elapsed time CPGC, which is incrementally added from time t7 reaches 4.4 seconds at time t10. The absolute value of the difference between the canister side reference value PCBS and the tank pressure PTPN is lower than the predetermined value. The tank side pulsation value DPTASM is at its upper limit. Thus, the three-way valve 23 is judged as malfunctioning with the pressure sensor 41 connected to the canister side. This sets both history flags XJC3, XJC3O to one and causes the malfunction flag XVC3 to be set to one. Accordingly, testing of the three-way valve 23 may be performed appropriately with the pressure sensor 41 fixed to the canister side.

In this embodiment, the tank side pulsation value DPTASM is obtained during idling of the engine 8 when the vehicle 40 is not moving. The pulsation value DPTASM is referred to when testing the three-way valve 23 for malfunctions causing the valve 23 to keep the pressure sensor 41 fixed to the canister side. Thus, when the vehicle 40 travels along poorly paved roads and produces vibration that may undesirably open the vapor control valve 20, computation of the pulsation value DPTASM, which may result in an erroneous value, is not performed. In other words, the pulsation value DPTASM is computed under stable conditions, which are free from vibrations. Accordingly, the above testing may be performed without errors.

The warning lamp 24, which is provided in the passenger compartment near the driver's seat, is lit when malfunctions are confirmed in the purge control valve 22 and the three-way valve 23. This informs the driver of the malfunctions in the purge control valve 22 and the three-way valve 23. As a result, the warning enables the driver to cope with the malfunctions of the purge control valve 22 and the three-way valve 23 at an early stage.

When malfunctions are confirmed during the testing of the valves 22, 23, the values of each malfunction flag XPVFC, XPVFO, XVT3, XVC3 are stored in the backup RAM 55 as testing data. This enables the malfunction history of the valves 22, 23 to be confirmed during maintenance of the vehicle 40 by reading out the testing data from the backup RAM 55.

The results of the testing of the treating device, that is, the malfunction flags XPVFC, XPVFO, XVT3, XVC3 related to the purge control valve 22 and the malfunction flag XV3 related to the three-way valve 23, will now be concisely described. A flowchart illustrating the "second testing routine", which is used to perform testing concerning the sealing of the treating device, is shown in FIG. 18. The ECU 51 executes this routine periodically for every predetermined time interval.

At step 2000, the ECU 51 reads the value of the malfunction flags XPVFC, XPVFO, XVT3, XVC3. At step 2010, the ECU 51 judges whether at least one of the malfunction flags XPVFC, XPVFO, XVT3, XVC3 is set at one. If all of the malfunction flags XPVFC, XPVFO, XVT3, XVC3 are set at zero, this indicates that both the purge control valve 22 and the three-way valve 23 are functioning normally. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 2020.

At step 2020, the ECU 51 performs testing of the sealing of the tank side and the canister side based on the value of the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC. Subsequent processing is then temporarily terminated. Specific description of the processing in step 2020 will not be given here.

If at least one of the malfunction flags XPVFC, XPVFO, XVT3, XVC3 is set at one in step 2010, this indicates that at least either the purge control valve 22 or the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning. In this case, the ECU 51 prohibits the testing of the sealing at the tank side and the canister side from being performed.

The testing concerned with the sealing of the treating device is not performed when the purge control valve 22 malfunctions and thus may not be opened or closed, and when the three-way valve 23 malfunctions and thus may not be switched. The testing concerned with the sealing of the treating device is performed only when the valves 22, 23 are functioning normally. This prevents mistaken testing for malfunctions concerned with the sealing of the tank side and the pressure side. As a result, the reliability of the testing apparatus is upgraded. In other words, the present invention enables the treating device, which adjusts the flow rate of the fuel passing through the purge line 21, to appropriately perform testing of the sealing of the tank side and the canister side. Additionally, the purge control valve 22 and the three-way valve 23 is tested appropriately to perform the appropriate testing of the sealing of the tank side and the canister side.

A second embodiment of a testing apparatus for a fuel treating device according to the present invention will hereafter be described with reference to the drawings. Parts identical to those described in the first embodiment will be denoted with the same reference numerals and not be described below.

In the second embodiment, the steps executed during testing differ from the first embodiment. FIGS. 19, 20 are flowcharts that illustrate another "testing routine" used to perform testing. The ECU 51 periodically carries out this routine once for every predetermined time period.

As shown in FIG. 19, at step 3100, the ECU 51 reads the values of the engine speed NE, the oxygen concentration Ox, and the vehicle speed SPD which are detected by the engine speed sensor 45, the oxygen sensor 46, and the vehicle speed sensor 47, respectively.

At step 3110, the ECU 51 judges whether the starting of the engine 8 has been completed. The ECU 51 determines that the starting of the engine 8 has been completed if the engine speed NE is equal to or greater than a predetermined value. If the starting of the engine 8 has not been completed, the ECU 51 temporarily terminates subsequent processing. If the starting of the engine 8 has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3120 and starts timing the elapsed time CAST with the timer counter 56.

At step 3130, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 and connects the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side for a predetermined length of time (e.g., three seconds). At step 3140, the ECU 51 reads the tank pressure PT detected by the pressure sensor 41.

At step 3150, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 and connects the pressure sensor 41 to the canister side for a predetermined length of time (e.g., five seconds). At step 3160, the ECU 51 reads the canister pressure PC detected by the pressure sensor 41.

At step 3170, the ECU 51 judges whether the pressure sensor 41 is malfunctioning from the alternately read values of the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC. If the values of the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC are not included in the output range of the pressure sensor 41, there is a possibility of a disconnection or short circuit in the electric circuit. Thus, the ECU 51 determines that the pressure sensor 41 is malfunctioning. If there is a malfunction in the pressure sensor 41, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3180 from step 3170.

Since there is a malfunction in the pressure sensor 41, the ECU 51 stores a sensor malfunction code MSC in the backup RAM 55 in step 3180. At step 3190, the ECU 51 lights the warning lamp 24 to inform the malfunction in the pressure sensor 41 and then terminates subsequent processing.

If the pressure sensor 41 is functioning normally, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3200 from step 3170. Since the pressure sensor 41 is functioning properly, the ECU 51 stores a sensor normal code NSC in the backup RAM 55 in step 3200.

At step 3210, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side.

At step 3220, the ECU 51 judges whether the elapsed time CAST is equal to or longer than five minutes. If the elapsed time CAST is shorter than five minutes, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3410. If the elapsed time CAST is equal to or longer than five minutes, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3230.

At step 3230, the ECU 51 judges whether the purge concentration FGPG is lower than a predetermined value PC1. In other words, the ECU 51 judges whether the purge concentration FGPG is relatively lean. If the purge concentration FGPG is higher than the predetermined value PC1 indicating that the concentration FGPG is relatively dense, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3410. If the purge concentration FGPG is lower than the predetermined value PC1, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3240.

At step 3240, the ECU 51 judges whether a tentative malfunction flag XMT is set at one. The tentative malfunction flag XMT indicates a tentative judgement of malfunctions related to the sealing in the canister side, malfunctions of the three-way valve 23, and malfunctions of the purge control valve 22. The setting of the malfunction flag XMT will be described later. The ECU 51 proceeds to step 3270 when the tentative malfunction flag XMT is set at one indicating that a tentative judgement of the above malfunctions has already been performed. The ECU 51 proceeds to step 3250 when the tentative malfunction flag XMT is set at zero indicating that a tentative judgement of the above malfunctions has not been performed.

At step 3250, the ECU 51 judges whether the vehicle 40 is traveling. The ECU 51 determines that the vehicle 40 is traveling if the vehicle speed SPD is equal to or higher than a predetermined value. When the vehicle 40 is not traveling, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3270. If the vehicle 40 is traveling, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3260.

At step 3260, the ECU 51 judges whether the current duty ratio DPG of the purge control valve 22 is equal to or greater than a reference value of 20 percent. Although the value of 20 percent is an exemplary figure, it is the value that ensures satisfactory S/N ratio (ratio between the subject signal and noise) of the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 when the vehicle 40 is traveling. If the duty ratio DPG is lower than 20 percent, the ECU 51 determines that the sealing in the canister side will not be tested and proceeds to step 3410. When the duty ratio is equal to or greater than 20 percent, the ECU 51 determines to test the sealing in the canister side and proceeds to step 3290.

The ECU 51 proceeds to step 3270 from steps 3240 and 3250 and judges whether the engine 8 is idling. When the engine 8 is not idling, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3410. If the engine 8 is idling, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3280.

At step 3280, the ECU 51 judges whether the current duty ratio DPG of the purge control valve 22 is equal to or greater than a reference value of 15 percent. Although the value of 15 percent is an exemplary figure, it is the value that ensures satisfactory S/N ratio of the value detected by the pressure sensor 41. If the duty ratio DPG is lower than 15 percent, the ECU 51 determines not to judge whether the canister side is malfunctioning and proceeds to step 3410. When the duty ratio is equal to or greater than 15 percent, the ECU 51 determines to judge whether the canister side is malfunctioning and proceeds to step 3290.

At step 3290, shown in FIG. 20, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 and connects the pressure sensor 41 to the canister side. At step 3300, the ECU starts timing the elapsed time CPGC with the timer counter 56 from when the pressure sensor 41 is connected to the canister side.

At step 3310, the ECU 51 executes a sub-routine to test the purge control valve 22. The sub-routine is illustrated in detail in FIG. 21.

At step 3311, the ECU 51 sets a judgement value KSM, which is referred to during testing, to 10 mmHg when the vehicle 40 is traveling. When the engine 8 is idling, the judgement value KSM is set to 5 mmHg.

At step 3312, the ECU 51 computes an average value PCSM, which is the average value of the canister pressure PC when the elapsed time CPGC is in the range of 0.5 seconds to 1.5 seconds. When the purge control valve 22 is duty controlled by the predetermined duty ratio DPG, the negative pressure in the intake passage 10 pulsates when transmitted through the purge line 21 to the canister 14. FIGS. 22(a) to 22(c) are time charts showing the alteration of the pulsating canister pressure PC. As evident from these charts, as the duty ratio DPG becomes larger within the range between 15 percent to 40 percent, the amplitude of the pulsation, or level of the pulsation, becomes larger. The ECU 51 computes the average value PCSM of the level of the pressure PC pulsation.

At step 3313, the ECU 51 judges whether the computed average value PCSM is greater than the judgement value KSM, which is set in accordance with the state of the vehicle 40. When the average value PCSM is larger than the judgement value KSM, indicating that the purge control valve 22 is functioning normally, the ECU proceeds to step 3314 and sets a first malfunction flag XMP to zero. The value of the flag XMP is stored in the RAM 54. When the average value PCSM is equal to or smaller than the judgement value KSM, indicating that the purge control valve 22 is malfunctioning, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3315 and sets the first malfunction flag XMP to one. The value of the flag XMP is stored in the RAM 54.

After executing the above sub-routine, the ECU 51 performs testing of the three-way valve 23 in step 3320, shown in FIG. 20. The testing is performed based on a sub-routine illustrated in FIG. 23.

At step 3321, the ECU 51 reads the canister pressure PC detected by the pressure sensor 41 when the purge control valve 22 is duty controlled. At step 3322, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. At step 3323, the ECU 51 reads the tank pressure PT detected by the pressure sensor 41 when the purge control valve 22 is duty controlled.

When the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally, the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 alters when the connection of the sensor 41 is changed. If the three-way valve 23 is not functioning normally, the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 remains the same when the connection of the sensor 41 is changed.

At step 3324, the ECU 51 judges whether the absolute value of the difference between the canister pressure PC and the tank pressure PT is greater than a predetermined reference value KA. When the absolute value of the difference between the pressures PC, PT is greater than the judgement value KA, the connection of the pressure sensor 41 has been changed properly. This indicates that the three-way valve 23 is functioning normally. Thus, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3325 and sets a second malfunction flag XMV to zero. The value of the flag XMV is stored in the RAM 54. When the absolute value of the difference between the pressures PC, PT is equal to or lower than the judgement value KA, the connection of the pressure sensor 41 has not been changed properly. This indicates that the three-way valve 23 is malfunctioning. Thus, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3326 and sets the second malfunction flag XMV to one. The value of the flag XMV is stored in the RAM 54.

After execution of the above sub-routine, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3330, shown in FIG. 20, and tests the sealing in the canister side. This sub-routine is shown in detail in FIG. 24.

At step 3331, the ECU 51 judges whether purge cut conditions, that is, the conditions for terminating the purging of the fuel from the canister 14 to the intake passage 10, has been satisfied. The purge cut conditions may include conditions such as the speed of the engine 8 being decreased. If the purge cut conditions are not satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3340, shown in FIG. 20. If the purge cut conditions are satisfied, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3332.

At step 3332, the ECU 51 stops purging fuel by closing the purge control valve 22. This causes the space in the canister side, which includes the canister 14, to be sealed by the purge control valve 22, the atmospheric pressure control valves 16, 18, and the vapor control valve 20. Thus, if there is no malfunction related with the sealing in the canister side, the negative pressure introduced into the canister 14 just before the termination of the fuel purging is maintained at substantially the same value inside the space.

At step 3333, the ECU 51 sets a judgement value KD at 3 mmHg if the vehicle 40 is traveling. If the vehicle 40 is not moving and the engine 8 is idling, the ECU 51 sets the judgement value KD to 2 mmHg.

At step 3334, the ECU 51 computes an alteration value ΔPC of the canister pressure PC for the period in which the elapsed time CPGC is in the range between 3.5 seconds to 4.5 seconds. In other words, the ECU 51 computes the alteration value ΔPC from the difference between the currently read canister pressure PC and a previously read canister pressure PCO. Since the canister pressure PC pulsates as it is altered, the ECU 51 computes the alteration value ΔPC of the canister pressure PC from the average value PCSM.

At step 3335, the ECU 51 judges whether the computed alteration value ΔPC is smaller than the judgement value KD, which is set in accordance with the state of the vehicle 40. The behavior of the canister pressure PC after stopping the purging of fuel is shown in the time chart of FIG. 25. The chart shows the behavior of when there is a malfunction related with the sealing and when there are no malfunctions. As shown by the solid line, the canister pressure PC gradually increases when there are no malfunctions. That is, since there are no malfunctions related with the sealing in the canister side, the alteration in the value of the negative pressure, drawn in just before the purge cutting, is small. As shown by the dotted line, the canister pressure PC increases suddenly and becomes approximately the same as the atmospheric pressure when there is a malfunction related to the sealing. In other words, due to the malfunction, the negative pressure, drawn in just before the purge cutting, increases suddenly until it reaches the atmospheric pressure. Thus, at step 3335, the ECU 51 judges the level of the increase in the canister pressure PC immediately after the purging of fuel is stopped. The value used as the judgement value KD is the optimum value for judgement of the level in pressure increase and corresponds to the state of the vehicle 40.

When the alteration value ΔPC is smaller than the judgement value KD at step 3335, indicating that the sealing in the canister side is in a normal state, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3336. At step 3336, the ECU 51 sets a third malfunction flag XMC to zero and stores the value in the RAM 54. When the alteration value ΔPC is equal to or greater than the judgement value KD at step 3335, indicating that the sealing in the canister side is abnormal, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3337. At step 3337, the ECU 51 sets the third malfunction flag XMC to one and stores the value in the RAM 54.

After executing step 3330, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3340 and judges whether at least one of the malfunction flags XMP, XMV, XMC is set at one, as shown in FIG. 20. If the flags XMP, XMV, XMC are all set at zero, the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the sealing in the canister side are all in a normal state. Thus, at step 3350, the ECU 51 stores a final normal code NFC in the backup RAM 55. At step 3360, the ECU 51 turns off the warning lamp 24. If any one of the flags XMP, XMV, XMC is set at one, there is a malfunction. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3370.

At step 3370, the ECU 51 judges whether the tentative malfunction flag XMT is set at one. If the tentative flag XMT is set at zero, this indicates that a malfunction has been confirmed for the first time. In this case, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3380 and sets the tentative malfunction flag XMT to one. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 3410. If the tentative flag XMT is set at one, this indicates that a malfunction has been confirmed for the second time and ensures the reliability in the judgement of malfunctions.

At step 3390, the ECU 51 stores a final malfunction code MFC in the backup RAM 55 to indicate the final results of the testing. The ECU 51 then proceeds to step 3400 and lights the warning lamp 24. Afterwards, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3410.

The ECU 51 proceeds to step 3410 from steps 3230, 3260-3280, 3360, 3380, 3400 and judges whether the testing of the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the sealing in the canister side has been completed. If the testing has not been completed, the ECU 51 jumps back to step 3170 and repeats the subsequent processing. If the testing has been completed, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3420.

At step 3420, the ECU 51 judges whether the elapsed time CAST is equal to or greater than 20 minutes. If the elapsed time CAST is shorter than 20 minutes, the ECU 51 jumps back to step 3170 and repeats the subsequent processing. If the elapsed time CAST is equal to or greater than 20 minutes, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3430.

At step 3430, the ECU 51 performs testing of the sealing in the tank side. A sub-routine of this testing is illustrated in FIG. 26.

At step 3431, the ECU 51 controls the three-way valve 23 to connect the pressure sensor 41 to the tank side. At step 3432, the ECU 51 reads the value detected by the pressure sensor 41 as the tank pressure PT.

At step 3433, the ECU 51 judges whether the tank pressure PT is substantially the same as the value of the atmospheric pressure PA. The behavior of the tank pressure PT when the engine 8 is running is shown in the chart of FIG. 27. As evident from the chart, the tank pressure PT is either negative or positive when the sealing in the tank side is in a normal state. If the sealing in the tank side is in an abnormal state, atmospheric pressure leaks into the tank side and causes the tank pressure PT to become substantially the same as the atmospheric pressure. Thus, when the tank pressure PT is not equal to the atmospheric pressure PA, that is, when the tank pressure PT is either positive and higher than the atmospheric pressure PA or negative and lower than the atmospheric pressure PA, the sealing in the tank side is in a normal state. In this state, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3434 and stores a tank side normal code NFT in the backup RAM 55.

If the tank pressure PT is substantially equal to the atmospheric pressure PA in step 3433, indicating that the sealing in the tank side is abnormal, the ECU 51 proceeds to step 3435. At step 3435, the ECU 51 stores a tank side malfunction code MFT in the backup RAM 55. At step 3436, the ECU 51 lights a warning lamp 24 to inform the malfunction related with the sealing of the tank side. After executing the sub-routine of step 3430, the ECU 51 temporarily terminates the processing shown in FIGS. 20 and 21.

According to this embodiment, the purge control valve 22 is duty controlled in correspondence with the required duty ratio DPG when the engine 8 is running. This causes the negative intake pressure produced in the intake passage 10 to pulsate as it is transmitted through the purge line 21 to the canister 14. When the vehicle 40 is traveling, the purge control valve 22 is controlled in correspondence with a duty ratio that is relatively greater than when the vehicle 40 is not moving and the engine 8 is idling. Hence, the pulsation level of the negative intake pressure acting on the canister 14 is greater when the vehicle 40 is traveling than when the engine 8 is idling. The negative intake pressure causes the fuel collected in the canister 14 to be purged into the intake passage 10 through the purge line 21.

When the purge control valve 22 is controlled in correspondence with a duty ratio DPG equal to or greater than the predetermined reference value, the ECU 51 performs testing of the fuel vapor treating device by comparing the selectively detected tank pressure PT or canister pressure PC with the predetermined judgement value. In this embodiment, the ECU 51 performs testing of the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the sealing in the canister side and the tank side.

When the vehicle 40 is traveling, the vibration of the vehicle body may cause vibration of the canister 14 and the vapor control valve 20. This vibration may open the vapor control valve 20 intermittently and cause pulsation of the tank pressure PT. Such pressure pulsation caused by undesirable opening of the vapor control valve 20 may be mistaken as the pressure pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22. It is required that the pressure pulsation caused by undesirable valve opening be eliminated from the subject of detection to allow accurate detection of the proper pressure pulsation caused only by the duty control of the purge control valve 22. Since the purge control valve 22 is controlled in correspondence with a duty ratio DPG equal to or greater than the predetermined reference value, it is possible to detect only the proper pressure pulsation by setting the reference value accordingly.

In this embodiment, the duty ratio DPG at which the purge control valve 22 is duty controlled differs when the vehicle 40 is traveling and when the engine 8 is idling. Therefore, the pulsation level of the negative pressure acting on the canister 14 is different when the vehicle 40 is traveling and when the engine 8 is idling. If the reference value for the duty ratio DPG were to be set at a certain value, the pressure pulsation, which is caused by undesirable opening of the vapor control valve 20 when the vehicle 40 is moving, is not detected. This enables detection of only the proper pressure pulsation when the vehicle 40 is moving. However, it may also prevent detection of both the undesirable pressure pulsation and the proper pressure pulsation when the engine 8 is idling.

The reference value for the duty ratio DPG when the vehicle 40 is moving and when the engine 8 is idling differs in this embodiment. That is, the reference value for the duty ratio DPG is 20 percent when the vehicle 40 is traveling and 15 percent when the engine 8 is idling. Accordingly, in this embodiment, the pressure pulsation caused by the duty control of the purge control valve 22 and the pressure pulsation caused by the undesirable opening of the vapor control valve 20 are distinguished during detection when the vehicle 40 is moving and when the engine 8 is idling. This enables appropriate testing of the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the sealing of the canister side and the tank side to be performed during movement of the vehicle 40 and also during idling of the engine 8.

To detect the proper pressure pulsation and prevent detection of the undesirable pressure pulsation, it is necessary to increase the ratio between these two types of pulsation, or the S/N ratio. The S/N ratio becomes relatively high when the purge control valve 22 is controlled in correspondence with a relatively high duty ratio DPG during movement of the vehicle 40. Contrarily, the S/N ratio becomes relatively low when the purge control valve 22 is controlled in correspondence with a relatively low duty ratio DPG during idling of the engine 8. In this embodiment, the reference value of the duty ratio DPG differs when the vehicle 40 is traveling and when the engine 8 is idling. Thus, the S/N ratio is increased during movement of the vehicle 40 and also during idling of the engine 8. This enables reliable testing of the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the sealing in the canister and tank side.

The flow rate of air in the intake passage 10 differs when the vehicle 10 is traveling and when the engine 8 is idling. Thus, the level of the negative pressure acting in the canister 14 differs regardless of the purge control valve 22 being controlled based on the same duty ratio DPG. This results in a different behavior of the pressure acting in the canister 14 and the fuel tank 1. In this embodiment, the judgement value KSM used during testing of the purge control valve 22 corresponds to 10 mmHg when the vehicle 40 is traveling and changes to 5 mmHg when the engine 8 is idling. In the same manner, the judgement value KD used to test the sealing in the canister side corresponds to 3 mmHg when the vehicle 40 is traveling and changes to 2 mmHg when the engine 8 is idling. Accordingly, the testing of the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, and the sealing in the canister and tank side is performed in accordance with the behavior of the pressure acting in the canister 14 and the tank 1, which differs when the vehicle 40 is traveling and when the engine 8 is idling. This improves the reliability of the testing.

In this embodiment, there is a possibility that the tank pressure PT may pulsate when the vapor control valve 20 is undesirably opened during movement of the vehicle 40. However, such undesirable pressure pulsation does not occur when the engine 8 is idling. Thus, there is a possibility of erroneous testing being performed when the vehicle 40 is traveling due to the undesirable pressure pulsation. On the other hand, proper testing would be performed when the engine 8 is idling since undesirable pressure pulsation does not occur in such state. In this embodiment, the ECU 51 performs the final testing based on the results of the testing performed when the vehicle 40 is moving and the testing performed when the engine 8 is idling. More specifically, if there is a malfunction in the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, or the sealing in the canister side when the vehicle 40 is moving, the ECU 51 records the testing result as a tentative malfunction. Afterwards, if the purge control valve 22, the three-way valve 23, or the sealing in the canister side is once again judged as malfunctioning when the engine 8 is idling, the ECU 51 finally determines that there is a malfunction. Hence, erroneous testing results caused by undesirable opening of the vapor control valve 20 during movement of the vehicle 40 is canceled by repeating the testing when the engine 8 is idling. This improves the reliability of the testing.

In this embodiment, the warning lamp 24 provided near the driver's seat is lit when there is a malfunction in the pressure sensor 41, the purge control valve 22, or the three-way valve 23. The lamp 24 is also lit when there is a malfunction in the sealing of the canister side or the tank side. This enables the malfunction to be coped with at an early stage.

When there is a malfunction, the corresponding malfunction flag MSC, MFC, MFT is stored in the backup RAM 55. This enables the history of the above malfunctions to be confirmed during maintenance of the vehicle 40 by reading out the testing data from the backup RAM 55.

Although only two embodiments of the present invention have been described herein, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be embodied in many other specific forms without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Particularly, it should be understood that the present invention may be embodied in the forms described below.

In the above embodiments, the three-way valve 23 is tested during starting of the engine 8 in a fuel vapor treating device which has the purge control valve 22 provided in the purge line 22. However, the testing of the three-way valve 23 may be performed during starting of the engine 8 in a fuel vapor treating device that does not include the purge control valve 22 in the purge line 21.

In the above embodiments, the canister 14 is provided with two atmospheric control valves 16, 18. However, the control valves 16, 18 may be omitted and a hole connected with the atmosphere may be provided instead. In this case, it is necessary to seal the space in the canister side to test the sealing of the canister side. Accordingly, the hole may be provided with an electromagnetic valve. Testing of the sealing may be performed by closing the electromagnetic valve.

In the above embodiments, in steps 1406, 1407, shown in FIG. 10, the three-way valve 23 is tested by comparing the pulsation values DPCASM, DPTASM with the reference value k. To execute these steps, the absolute value of the difference between the canister side reference value PCBS and the value of the tank pressure PTPN during fuel purging is required to be lower than 0.4 mmHg in step 1405. However, step 1405 may be eliminated from the routine shown in FIG. 10 during testing of the three-way valve.

In the above embodiments, the three-way valve 23 enables the pressure sensor 41 to selectively detect the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC by changing the side it is connected to when performing testing of the sealing in the tank side and the canister side. However, two pressure sensors may be used instead to separately detect the tank pressure PT and the canister pressure PC when performing testing of the sealing in the tank side and the canister side.

Therefore, the present examples and embodiments are to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive and the invention is not to be limited to the details given herein, but may be embodied within the scope of the appended claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
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Classifications
U.S. Classification123/520, 123/198.00D
International ClassificationF02M25/08
Cooperative ClassificationF02M25/0809
European ClassificationF02M25/08B
Legal Events
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Jul 15, 2009FPAYFee payment
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Jul 20, 2005FPAYFee payment
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Dec 22, 1998CCCertificate of correction
Jul 30, 1996ASAssignment
Owner name: TOYOTA JIDOSHA KABUSHIKI KAISHA, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:ITO, TOKIJI;SHINOHARA, SUSUMU;REEL/FRAME:008121/0817
Effective date: 19960726